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PRICE $3.00 




Copyright 1918 


Cincinnati, Ohio 
Owners and Publishers 


"The National Journal of Display Advertising" 


In presenting the subject, text and illustrations of lettering in this book, an effort has been made to set forth as 
simply as possible the methods found most practical in the production of letters for commercial purposes, embracing show 
card writing and lettering posters and advertising matter for single copy jobs or process, reproduction. 

As the historical origin of letters has been thoroughly covered by competent authorities in- many technical publi- 
cations, no attempt will be made to cover that part of the subject, except in reference to classification of the illustrations 
from a fundamental basis. 

From a literary viewpoint, the writer respectfully calls attention to the fact that the text is simple, practical "shop 
talk" gleaned from direct association with members of the craft during many years of actual labor in the various branches 
of the field and art of lettercraft. 

In consequence, if the reader expects a scientific literary dissertation within these pages disappointment awaits, as 
the main object consists of reducing the subject to its least common multiple, both in point of technicality and production. 

Unlike most publications relative to lettering, in which the illustrative matter has been gathered from indiscriminate 
sources, representing the best efforts and technique of numberless letter artists and craftsmen in gallery effect, the ex- 
amples herein are reproductions of the personal work and conceptions of one individual, some of which are imitative, others 
being modifications of existing letter and type styles and models in original style. In each case the treatment and method 
of production is calculated from four ultimate viewpoints: 

First, simplicity of form without loss of effect or basic principle. 

Second, the actual production of the above with the least amount of effort in the shortest possible time. 

Third, the arrangement of the whole in an effective and artistic manner. 

Fourth, a selection of letter styles adaptable to and in conformity with the subject wherever possible. 

In order to aid the reader to accomplish these results, using a variety of letter forms, schemes of arrangement, 
methods of production, etc., a series of chapters relative to the subject has been arranged herein, in each case possible; 
illustrative examples are shown and the methods of production explained ; useless methods eliminated, or at least tem- 
porarily sidetracked for the rapidly-moving present. Ever remembering, however, that which is considered junk today 
may, with a few minor changes, be converted into valuable material tomorrow. 

To avoid monotony, the subject has not been treated in continuity, which phase usually requires many reviews. Such 
explanations as may not be sufficiently lucid in one chapter will probably assume definite proportions in another when 
clothed with different nomenclature and accompanied by a change of illustrative matter. 

In brief, the entire subject and illustrative matter is compiled with a view of eliminating the highly technical ex- 
planations and different methods of producing a class of hand lettering that possesses commercial value and artistic merit. 

The examples of lettering, show cards, etc., displayed herein were made in ordinary, every-day work style, prac- 
tical and possible by the methods enumerated, not carefully drafted or retouched for perfection of engraved display pur- 
poses. -WM. HUGH GORDON. 




Modern Lettering 




Classification of Letters and Types 




Some First Principles in Lettering 




Brushes and Pens for Lettering 



Graceful Swi 


The Potentiality of a Show Card Writer's Brush 
First Principles in Show Card \Vriting 



Speed Limit 


Colors and Their Preparation 



"Poster Styl 


Some Ideas for the Amateur in Show Card Writing 
Arrangement and Balance in Show Card Lettering 
Diagrammatical Analysis of Letters 



New Alphab 
The Show C 
Illustrative ! 


Raoid Single and Double Stroke Numerals 



Motion Picti 

Economy of Motion as an Aid to Speed 59 

Modifications of Type Faces Adapted to Brush Work 63 

d Lettering 67 

Graceful Swing Vs. Laborious Draft in Lettering 73 

Speed Limit in Lettering Show Cards 77 

Fundamentals of Speed Work 99 

"Poster Styles" of Lettering for the Card Writer 103 

New Alphabets Vs. Old 121 

The Show Card and the Show Card Man___ 133 

Illustrative Stunts for Show Cards 151 

Motion Picture Titles and Their Preparation 153 


Modern Lettering 

PRESENT day styles of lettering in the abstract represent the 
combined results of numberless and nameless designers of all 
nations covering a period of centuries of time. Each period 
has produced its peculiarity and phases of style and design, which, 
in the main, have a common or almost identical basic principle. 
The A B C's with which most all nations are familiar is a series 
of shapes or symbols representing sounds which have meaning and 
use, and, when properly arranged, represent the spoken word. 

The first crude attempt of school kids in carving their initials 
on any piece of wood that is handy represents the basic principle 
of all letters and alphabets with which the English-speaking people 
are familiar. They are practically the original symbolic characters 
representing sounds. Printers and sign painters of today variously 
classify these characters as Egyptian, Block or Gothic capitals, the 
chief characteristic being construction by a combination of elements 
of even width throughout. The term Gothic, however, historically 
refers to the style Gothic in the arts and involves most all the texts, 
such as old English, German text, black letter and uncial letters. 

The variety and style of letters, types and alphabets in common 
use today defies classification or enumeration. Many types and 
styles are immediately recognizable but unnameable. Many types 
and styles are known by the name of their designer. A memoriza- 
tion of the aggregate would be a useless burden to assume and 
would serve but little benefit except to the printer. 

In order to simplify the proposition as it appears within these 
pages, the writer would call attention to the fact that from a 
common basic principle has been evolved four different styles, or 

four elementary classifications, upon which are variously con- 
structed all the alphabets in common use by letterers, printers, sign 
painters, designers and engravers. 

These four classifications are known as Gothic, Roman, Text 
and Italic, capitals and small letters, which the. printers term upper 
case and lower case, in the order named. These are represented in 
direct contrast as shown in Plates 100, 101, 102 and 103. 

The letterer or student who decides to devise or design a cer- 
tain style characteristic, based on any particular series of letter or 
type styles, will avoid confusion by first learning to classify any 
given example as being based on a certain principle, regardless of 
its exterior treatment or appearance. 

There are numberless styles of letters and types in common 
use that are not generally known by name even by the expert 
typographer or letterer, but are easily classified as being either 
Gothic, Roman, Italic or Text faces, and as such they are known. 
As most of the work in this book applies to commercial lettering, 
the styles illustrative will be referred to by type classification as 
above noted. 

All letters, either direct copies or hand-drawn modifications or 
types, having elementary parts composed of even width strokes are 
classed as Gothic. All letters, either direct copies or hand-drawn 
modifications of types having elementary parts composed of ac- 
cented strokes are classed as Roman. 

The letters based on "Text" are variously known as Old English, 
German, Church, and numberless other Text styles. 








English text 


Any or all of the above when written or drawn on a slant are 
known variously as Italics and classified generally as either Gothic 
Italic, Roman Italic, Text Italic, etc. 

The true Italic, however, partakes more of the style of written 
forms based on script, which letters may be either joined together 
or written separately, as the case requires. 

The above summary will be found less confusing as a whole 
than- a memorization of the historical and traditional forms, names 







IFngluh TCext (Capitals 

and origin of the letters, styles and the periods of time in which they 
were originated. 

To those who are interested in these style events and desire to 
acquaint themselves with authentic and reliable illustrative data, 
the writer respectfully suggests a perusal of the works of Thomas 
Wood Stevens, Frank Chanteau Brown, and many others, all of 
which are highly interesting, beautifully illustrated and written in 
a comprehensive manner. 



Classification of Letters and Types 

IF you were to ask the average reader of his home town news- 
paper what class of type was used in the headlines, the news 

section or in the leading department store ads, he would prob- 
ably answer, "Oh, just ordinary printed type." If the same question 
were asked of a printer who was acquainted with the sheet, he would 
probably enumerate a few of the leading features as, "The title is 
seventy-two point Text ; the feature headlines are forty-two point 
Gothic ; the news section is eight point DeVinne ; the sub-headings 
are twenty-four point Jensen ; the editorials are ten point Scotch 
Roman ; Smith's Department Store runs outline DeVinne in its ad 
headings ; Brown uses inline Cheltenham headings ; Jones, the 
jeweler, runs twenty point Caslon Italics." 

The Blooey Auto Company runs hand-lettered ads, etc. Ask 
a sign painter, show card writer or a commercial letterer, nine out 
of ten will be unable to enumerate or name the styles of type used 
except possibly as Gothic, Roman, Italic or Text. This is called 
classification and is in most cases sufficient. 

Before printing was invented, books were hand-lettered or 
written. Printers first fashioned their type faces after the lettering 
in manuscript books. At the time of the invention of typography 
the style of lettering was known as Gothic, Black Letter, Text and 
Old English. Gothic from its pointed formation and its preference 
by the Gothic peoples. Black Letter from its blackness on the 
printed page. Text from its use for the body or text matter of the 
printed page, and Old English from its use by the early English 

Text letters are still in use in Germany and on German papers 

in this country, the fractur being a standard type face for these 

Late designs of letters indicate a gradual return to the Roman 
characters from which Text was evolved. Text capitals are par- 
ticularly illegible and for that reason should never be used alone in 
a line. There are capitals devised which are a mixture, half Roman 
and half Text, based on the early uncial letter, which are more 
legible than either the German or English text. 
. Block letters, known as such by their plain square block appear- 
ance, are today called (misnamed) "Gothic" by printers. They are 
the same general shape as the Roman and are constructed of lines 
of uniform width throughout, while Roman is accented ; in other 
words, composed of elementary strokes consisting of both heavy 
and light lines. 

The Roman capitals were evolved from the Greek. The Roman 
scribes gave it its typical design, and the use of the reed as a 
medium of production settled the direction of its accent. The reed 
was a flat, chisel-pointed device (from which the modern stub pen 
was evolved). This was dipped in ink and held in a nearly vertical 
position. In writing the Roman capital A, for example, the first 
stroke was made upward from left to right with the sharp chisel 
edge of the reed which produced a hairline ; the second stroke down- 
ward from left to right made with the wide flat point, as broad as 
the width of the chisel edge, produced a heavy line, called the 
accent ; the cross bar horizontal was made with the thin edge, pro- 
ducing a thin or hair line. 

This principle of accent is apparent throughout the entire alpha- 




Gothic Lower Case 


Roman Lower Case 

abode fghijklnv 

ItaTic Lower Case 

ab c ef 

36ngjish 1&xt lower case 
E> 1 ate 102 

bet. All upward strokes from left to right are light, except in the 
Z, which middle stroke was made downward from right to left with 
the broad edge. All downward strokes, whether vertical or drawn 
from left to right, are heavy, except the verticals in the N and the 
first vertical in the M, which are light. As originally written with 
the reed, these were up strokes. The first stroke of the U was 
made downward and accented, the second is an up stroke light, and 
the single down stroke of the I, J and T is heavy. The accent of a 
curved stroke also follows this principle. The down strokes on 
each side being accented, and thinnest on the top and bottom. 

The addition of serifs, commonly called spurs, being horizontal 
in the capitals are also light hairlines which may be subsequently 
rounded into the verticals, if desired. Thus from the record we are 
told that the accent was imposed on the Roman letter by the tool 
with which it was originally made, and, while the modern letterer, 

using flat chisel edge brushes or pens, does not make up strokes, 
but makes all strokes downward on Roman letters, the principle 
of accent remains the same. 

A parallel of this fact occasions the theory that all single stroke 
or "written letters" assume the characteristics imposed on the 
elementary principles by the tool with which they are made. There- 
fore, the use of a tool, pen, brush or device that will semi-auto- 
matically produce the elements of a letter in a series of properly 
arranged single strokes would be the most logical and quickest way 
to arrive at the result. Why, then, have we been almost universally 
taught to draw the forms of letters in outline ? 

No doubt this primary idea is correct in so far as learning the 
forms of letters is concerned, but why stick to this method of pro- 
duction after having accomplished the primary result? Today we 
have pens and brushes adapted to the single stroke production of 
almost any style of letter, also many modifications of different 
style type faces. The evolution of letter styles and their arrange- 


Gothic Lower Case 




1 *-!> 

no p q rstuutnxij 

Roman, Lo\ver Case 

Itah-c Lower Case 

(P16 Iftujlish S?jct Icraer case. 
Plate 103 



ment is mainly responsible for the record-breaking bursts of speed 
displayed by the show card writer. 

We have of necessity devised certain styles of lower case, or 
small letters, that permit of greater speed in execution. These 
changes have occurred gradually, and, for the most part, their indi- 
viduality in appearance has been caused by the mediums employed 
in their production. These mediums have in turn proven the possi- 
bilities of designing new letter styles or making acceptable modi- 
fications of existing styles, both of type and hand-lettered origin, 
at a higher rate of speed. 

The letterer has no logical need to cumber the memory with 
trade names of type or letter styles. It is only necessary that he 
should be able to classify any letter or alphabet as belonging to a 
certain system or basic principle. 

For the purpose of classification we assume that all known 
letter styles are primarily based on what is now universally known 
as Gothic, Roman, Italic and Text. 

In classifying as Gothic, all sans serif letters of even width 
stroke we adopt a modern printer's term, as historically the style 
"Gothic" refers to many Uncial, Text and Black Letter forms, which 
is more confusing than instructive. 

Some lettercrafters and designers may take exception to classi- 
fying square and round block or even width stroke letters with or 
without serifs as Gothic, but as we are dealing with type styles and 
hand-made letters that are modifications of type styles for commer- 
cial purposes, it will be better understood than delving into the dead 
past for historical nomenclature to fit modern lettering adapted 
strictly to commercial purposes. 

Therefore, if a letter is formed of even width strokes through- 
out it is classed as Gothic. If the strokes are accented it is classed 
as Roman. If it is made on a slant it belongs to the Italics. The 
historic Gothic, Lombardic, Uncial, Half Uncial, Black Letter, 

Cloister or Church Text, Old English and German are all classed 

The designer of letters frequently finds use for the principles 

involved in these text styles as a judicious admixture with the 

elements of Roman frequently results in a beautiful, legible modi- 

fication that is more easily and rapidly made than- either of the 

parents immediate; 

A capable workman should be able to rapidly produce a fairly 
good resemblance to either upper or lower case Gothic, Roman, 
Italic or Text by the single stroke method, with either brush or 
lettering pen. 

The study and practice of these letter forms based on the above 
classification should receive careful attention, and the ability to 
distinguish these classifications in devising styles best adapted to 
certain needs is one of the prime requisites. The ability to draw 
the forms does not qualify one as a letterer, especially from the 
show card writer's viewpoint, which is "Quantity First." There 
are at least a dozen methods of producing letters by hand. Of these 
but two are worthy of consideration, namely, free-hand modeled 
and written. 

Why the maker of show cards is called a show card "writer" is 
from the fact that most of his lettering is really written, so called be- 
cause produced by the rapid single stroke method, much the same 
as writing, regardless of whether a brush, pen, or other device is 
used, or the characters are slant or vertical. 

Note the Plates 100 to 103 Gothic, Roman, Italic and Text, 
upper and lower case all of free-hand single stroke construction, 
the text illustrated in this case being Old English. Upon each 
classified principle numberless and nameless styles of letters and 
types have been and are still being designed, also countless modi- 
fications may be devised either singly or by careful admixture of the 
elementary principles throughout the entire alphabet in uniformity. 



Comparative Elementary Principles of Gothic, Roman. Italic and Text.-The four classifications shown. 


The Gothic elements consist of uniform width strokes throughout", using either brush or pen. 
Qtite-TkA ehmwts indicated are single brush strokes as applied to Singh-stroke lettering 


The Roman elements are accented, Keavy and. light lines as indicated. 

/ \-OQKSUl. 

Italics, (Like ike Roman) elements are accented. Consisting of heavy ant light lines as indicated. 

elements of fext'are also accent^. J^istcricatls.fet iskiuwtv as 6otlik. "Uote explanatictL'. 




Some First Principles in Lettering 

SYMBOLIC characters representing vocal sounds can be traced 
back through countless ages. Some of the first forms of which 
there are authentic records are with us today ; they represent 
the basic principles of the early Roman and Gothic letters, from 
which source we derive our modern alphabets. Briefly, these ele- 
mentary principles consist of parallel and horizontal lines, right 
and left obliques, oval, circle and the compound curve. 

The above-named letters contain these elements in their most 
condensed form, as shown in Plates 105 and 106. Regardless of the 
thickness of these strokes, their various combinations, no matter 
how produced, give us a tangible series of principles with which to 
design, construct and elaborate upon any or all alphabetical char- 
acters with which the civilized races are familiar. By numbering 
these elements consecutively any letter may be analyzed into its 
component parts. Designing or constructing any letter minus these 
principles means meaningless hieroglyphs ; an incorrect arrange- 
ment of these principles same result. 

The main object in calling attention to these principles is the 
numerous examples we are often called upon to criticize. To the 
professional eye all alphabets are primarily the same proposition 
under different exterior treatment. To the average beginner or 
amateur, and many of the semi-pros, every alphabet is a different 
picture, to be studied from appearance, losing sight of the fore- 
going facts that the principle remains unchanged throughout in 
every case. This will be a theme for illustration later by stripping 
some of our ornamental letters of their decorative trimmings and 
dress, leaving the basic principle of each case in practically its naked 

To begin at the beginning, take the plain Gothic upper or lower 
case, arranged in its most simple form (Plates 100 to 103), drawn 
with a fine pencil line, and, if correctly arranged, you will have the 
superstructure of any alphabet you wish to build. If you reverse 
the operation, choose any standard plain or fancy alphabet, whether 
printed, engraved or hand-made, with either brush, pen, pencil or 
engraver's tool, trace each letter over with a pencil, in a hairline 
Gothic letter, the result will demonstrate the above to be correct. 

This idea will make the study of an alphabet a one-two-three 
by rule-and-principle proposition. Any time you see or hear of a 
"new alphabet," to learn it thoroughly simply take its clothes off, 
strip it down to naked principle ; don't try to study or familiarize 
yourself with the "new alphabet" from outward appearance alone. 
That is a rather confusing problem somewhat similar to figuring 
an interest problem while not knowing simple addition, unless you 
happen to be a freak or genius, which amounts to the same thing. 

To familiarize yourself with an alphabet classify it as either 
Gothic, Roman, Text or Italic. Then locate the principle; then 
study its most apparent modification. In what particular does it 
differ from any other you have tried or seen? 

1. Comparative thickness of strokes and their relation each to 
the other throughout. 

2. Treatment of curved lines : Are they circular, oval, elon- 
gated, condensed, or are angles substituted for curves in general? 

3. General spacing arrangement, whether equal or unequal. 

4. General slant. 

5. Method of finishing strokes, whether sharp or blunt spurs, 
blocks, curves or compound strokes. 



6. The length of extended letters above and below top and base 

If these points are carefully determined, what tool, brush or pen 
lends itself most readily to the construction, whether single or 
double strokes or outline? 

Unless you are "eye-minded" or a natural talent genius, you may 
as well make up your mind to go into these details in an analytical 
manner, get down to the ground, and come into camp by the beaten 

Short cuts are usually disastrous to results. Systematic study, 
intelligent, persistent practice, with due regard for basic principle 
at all times, will show good results. 

It's not how many sheets of paper you cover that constitutes 
practice, as indiscriminate practice will land you in the great no- 
where, and it is usually a case of crawl back to where you started 
or accept defeat. 

Regarding what tools, colors, brushes, pens, etc., had best be 
used in this work, most every workman has his pet ideas. We will 
touch on that matter later, but for the present in a general way we 
will call attention to the method of using the tools rather than 
to the tools themselves. 

In a previous chapter was presented a descriptive plate of 
elementary principles using the Gothic, Roman, Italic and Text 
letters to illustrate their combinations. 

It will be well to use this plate for future reference in analyzing 
and studying the various alphabets that will appear throughout 
this series. The primary elements are used merely as a starting 
point, their modifications in constructing different letters belonging 
to any series of alphabets must bear a certain relation throughout. 
For instance, the letter "O" is an "O" whether it is round, square, 
oval, square cornered, even width strokes throughout, accented or 
formed with varying degrees of thickness. In all cases it will be 
well to remember that any of the above characteristics applied to 
any letter must be observed throughout the entire alphabet, as 
above stated, in their proper relation. This feature then changes 

the appearance of the entire alphabet, always bearing in mind that 
a mixture of modifications produces a mongrel alphabet, which, 
from a professional or artistic point of view, will not be tolerated. 
Taking the ordinary plain Gothic letter without the serifs, com- 
monly called spurs, spurs, thick and thin strokes, etc., we have 
rather an uninteresting subject to start with, yet it is by far one. of 
the most difficult to execute. The very fact of its plain appearance 
and simplicity of mechanical construction renders defects glaringly 
apparent, yet this alphabet can be juggled with in more ways than 
any other, except Roman, providing the modifications hold together 
in contour and arrangement. 

A rather striking argument in favor of the greater use of this 
letter is its forceful appearance in the so-called modern "poster 
ads" and hand-lettered advertisements now so popular in all depart- 
ments of publicity. 

What has heretofore made this series of alphabets seem com- 
monplace was indifferent composition or layout. To be really effec- 
tive it is essential that the lettering should be massed in some 
geometric shape or decorative manner in such a way that it be- 
comes part of the whole design. A haphazard, catch-as-can layout 
or arrangement of any style lettering is worse than useless as a 
show card. 

The modern display card writer is outgrowing the antics for- 
merly indulged ,in, such as scrolls, swipes, curlycues and abortive 
attempts at decoration. Simplicity is now paramount. A display 
card must create an impression, but the main object is to catch 
and hold the eye, then deliver the sales message in the most concise 

In Plates 120, 121, U and V we have four characteristic modi- 
fications of the Gothic letter, each with its own peculiarity. Gener- 
ally speaking, an alphabet arranged in A B C rotation is an 
uninteresting, inanimate object which conveys no meaning, be it 
either good, bad or indifferent. Its merits or demerits are only 
apparent where arranged in words, sentences, paragraphs and 



Brushes and Pens for Lettering 


THE first attempt at manipulating a lettering brush is prac- 
tically certain to produce a series of discouraging results. 
Unlike ordinary pens or a pencil, which requires pressure to 
produce any difference in width of stroke, a brush will respond to 
the slightest pressure, causing a varying width or unevenness of 
edges which necessitates subsequent patching, trimming and round- 
ing out of elementary curves, ovals or circles. It requires consider- 
able practice and experiment with a brush merely to determine 
what it will do or how it will act under varying circumstances. 
It is more difficult to patch up a series of badly modeled letters 
than to produce perfect ones made under the right circumstances 
with proper materials and correct manipulation in the first place. 


Note, as the methods and materials employed by sign painters 
and show card writers are widely different, we are not considering 
methods and materials of sign painters in this particular instance, 
but those of the show card writer, commercial artist, etc. 

Most beginners attempt to manipulate a brush in much the same 
manner as a pen or pencil, principally as regards the position of 
holding, i. e., using the thumb, first and second fingers, holding the 
brush on an angle of approximately a 45-degree slant. 

This will work out satisfactorily only up to a certain point, 
namely, the production of vertical or horizontal straight lines. It 
will prove almost impossible to produce even width, single strokes 
in rounding curves on any oval or circular element with the brush 



Normal positions of holding" a flat marking- or 
rottnd-writingf pen ia making" Single-stroke or 
SKow-cardwriter's Roman letters and Italics - 

Vertical Slant or Italic 

Position * 1 ^Position 

held on the angle of slant above noted. To overcome this difficulty 
the operator should accustom himself to holding the brush in a 
nearly vertical (straight up) position between the thumb and index 
finger, using the second, third and fourth fingers as a sliding brace 
and rest for the hand. See Plate A, also Plates 105, 106 and 107. 

This position will seem rather awkward at first trial, but subse- 
quent results will prove to be more satisfactory in that this manner 
of holding the brush allows better action by rolling the brush be- 
tween the thumb and index finger, a uniform width stroke can be 
made on any part of circular or oval elements, also gives better 
control in adding thin line horizontals in cross lines, top and base 
serifs, etc. Likewise it admits of more speed, being a short hold- 
close down to the heel of the hair on the ferrule. 

Brushes having metal ferrules usually require too much grip- 
ping power in holding, which interferes with freedom of arm and 

1 25 4, 5 6 

I A~C ) S 

T^iim bercd Elements oF 
Single- stroke^, /urns} 
Gothic letters and a 
side view of correct 
brush-holding" posif 1011. 
Notice- nearly vertical 
position of brush. 
which is held between 
the thumb and index 
finger, this position, 
permits the necessary^ 
twist or roll of tke brush 
in. rounding curves. 



finger action. Such brushes should have the ferrules wrapped with 
waxed thread or a series of nicks filed thereon to prevent slipping 
between the fingers. 

Lettering brushes should be of the best quality red sable, com- 
monly called riggers. They have round ferrules, but the hair can 
be worked to a flat chisel edge in the color on a palette of card 
board before beginning actual operation. This flat chisel edge per- 
mits of drawing either broad, bold strokes on the verticals and fine 
lines on the horizontals and down strokes from right to left, such 
as are used in producing the elements of a single stroke Roman, 
Text or Italic character. In fact, a brush of this nature should pro- 
duce identically the same elements as a flat marking, or any pen 
of the stub variety, in an automatic manner, the only difference 
being that the method of holding the brush nearly vertical permits 
of even width oval strokes by rolling between the thumb and index 



5 o 


5 10 11 12 13 


N.umbcrcd elements of Sing-lc- 
strokc Roman letters and a 
top view of hand holding the 
brush hi correct normal position 
lor makiiiq the strokes 


finger in making Gothic letters or Bold Roman styles, which is 
impossible to do with a chisel edge pen. 

To offset this difficulty a pen, called the Speedball broad stroke, 
has been devised to produce an even width line of uniform thick- 
ness when drawn in any direction. These pens are furnished with 
a bent-up section of the tip ; some are square and some round. 
Plates 109 and 110 illustrate the normal positions of the hand in 
operating the square point pens. The round points may be operated 
in any position, providing the bent-up section of the tip is kept in 
flat contact with the writing surface. The Payzant .pen is also a 
wonderful broad stroke lettering and drawing device. 

Plate 104 indicates the two normal positions of holding and 
operating a lettering pen of the flat marking or stub variety, of 
which there are several kinds of makes admirably suited to draw- 

Top view of position of 
holding brush, as shown 
in side view PLATE IO5. 
Also shows the different 
degrees of curve in the 
oval elements of Gothic 
letters. Fig. 5 and 6.- 

PLATE 107 

ing the elements of single stroke Roman, Italic, Text and round 
writing in a semi-automatic manner. 

Of these best adapted to the purpose are Hunt's "No. 400 Line,"' 
in eleven sizes, the Sonnecken (of German manufacture) in different 
sizes, the automatic shading pen and several others of a like char- 
acter, all devised and manufactured for the express purposes of 
certain styles of lettering. 

The latest addition to the tools of the lettercrafter is the "Rom- 
italic" pens, so named as being particularly adapted to producing 
the elementary principles of Roman and Italic modern classic styles 
having graded thickness of strokes and hairline elements. Examples 
of the work of most all the above-mentioned tools are shown as 
indicated elsewhere within these pages. 

In regard to the purchase of materials adapted to this work, 



fosition of trusk in, 
drawingf Korrz.ontal 
elements of GotJaic 


personal experience prompts the writer to suggest that cheap ma- 
terials are by far the most expensive in the long run. Not alone 
in the repeated experimental cost is this most apparent, but in the 
quality of work possible with cheap brushes and colors, "amateur 
outfits," etc., which are simply made to sell. 

Square foster Gothic- Plain* Serif ed 

= ////\\\\OSC 11 TOIL 1!8 


of holding 
"Style A" 
Square point 
Speed ball pen. 

These pens are 
particularly ad- 
apted to making 
bold, heavy- face 
display lettering 
in condensed or 
close packed space 

PLATE 109 

Show card writers and letterers' supply houses are logically 
the best places to purchase equipment. They carry a line of ma- 
terials that bears the stamp of professional approval and may be 
relied upon to perform their mission if properly handled. A list of 
these supply houses is published monthly in SIGNS OF THE TIMES. 



Rugged Bold-face display type 

=///\\\: n n d box *T 



of holding the 

"Style A" 

Square point 


Lettering Pen. 

Practice on these elements vv'ith vigorous 
free-hand single-strokes, use a 10 Rigger brush 

1/V S 


nca mnzxv 

111 Originals 11 * 14-inch Cards 



Showing' lioxo fkc different normal positions of holding- a brush or lettering' pen will 
irrvpose different characteristics on tire same letters. Starting' a. lower case 
Roma.n letter in position ^1. insures an angailar. spikey shape top on the ver- 
tical elements, Changfincr to position. *2. produces horizontal spikey tops 
as well as horizontal terminal base line serifs, and cross lines are also horizontal 

ab cdef g*hij kl m 

Accent appears on. upper rigitt and lower left 
sides of oval elements as indicated bt? line 
on ancrle ihrou^k oval 

Fbsition 1 


Accent appears on horrzontal center ol" 
all oval elements as indicated bj; line 

Plate 112 


Fbsitiorr 2. 


The Potentiality of a Show Card Writer's Brush 

THERE is an old saying, "You can lead a horse to water but 
you can't make him drink." Likewise you can lead a brush 
to a pot of paint, but you can't make it work. Your first duty 
to yourself when attempting a certain style of letter is to deter- 
mine just what kind of a brush is best adapted to producing its 
elementary strokes in as nearly an automatic manner as possible. 

By careful experiment you will find that a vast amount of effort 
is expended uselessly in struggling with a brush that is ill adapted 
to the particular style of letter you wish to make, especially if you 
are addicted to the "hairline" habit ; by this is meant making large 
or medium size letters using a mixture of heavy strokes and hair 
lines with sharp spur terminals. 

For the most logical reasons it is best to cure yourself of the 
hairline habit. If a customer does not specifically indicate that that 
particular style is wanted, do not use it. 

First, unless it is extremely well made and carefully finished, it 
is not good to look at. Next, it consumes too much time in the 
making. Furthermore, one has to stick too closely to engraved 
styles, thereby displaying a lack of individuality ; and lastly, it is 
not as readable as the various bold face styles which are becoming 
more popular with publicity experts. 

Now, do not get the idea by the foregoing that a good single 
stroke Roman, made either with a pen or a brush, is belittled, for 
those styles are considered among the most beautiful of all alpha- 
bets for certain purposes, but when you attempt anything larger 
than a half sheet they do not carry enough weight ; consequently 
the hair lines must be thicker to impart legibility and the spurs 
made correspondingly heavier. 

The main difficulty with most letterers is in trying to make a 
small brush do the work of a large one. It is by far an easier stunt 
to work a No. 12 or No. 15 brush down to a point size of a No.. 8 or 
No. 10 than to spread a No. 5 or No. 8 up to a larger size. The more 
color you can carry in a brush and still keep the point properly 
chiseled, the easier it is to make a clean-cut letter. 

By flooding the color on heavy in quick, even strokes you will 
find the formation of letters much easier than spreading the color 
on thin, then smoothing it out carefully on the terminals. The 
finishing up process soon becomes automatic in action ; thereby the 
speed is multiplied. Too much can not be said in regard to the 
proper holding of a brush. 

As illustrated in a previous chapter, the brush should be held 
nearly perpendicular between thumb and index finger. Forget 
you have a second finger when using a brush. Hold as close down 
to the hair as possible, and do not use a brush with hair longer than 
three-fourths to seven-eights inch. The closer your fingers are to 
the work the less lost motion. 

Never use a bridge or rest the brush hand on the other hand. 
This method is for sign writing only, and no great amount of speed 
can be attained in that way by the card writer. If you learned that 
way, so did many others, but had to learn all over again before 
they could hold down a shop job and make money for the boss. 

Do not use flat ferrule brushes. Never use fan-shaped chisel 
brushes. Genuine red sable hair is thick in the middle and fine at 
both ends. Good brushes have a belly midway between the tip and 
ferrule ; they will hold an edge better and are not so apt to split. 

Never trim a brush with scissors or knife. If it requires trim- 



Constructive Strokes of the 

tke size of letters is too large for single-stroke construction tke outline- 
modeled method may be used as indicated by the skeleton letters lierc sHovun. 



Plate 113 


ming, lay the tip over the edge of a card "and file the ends with 
emery paper. 

As this subject constitutes one of the main difficulties encoun- 
tered in lettering, we will go a little further into the proposition. 
It is usually a source of wonder to the amateur to watch a pro- 
ficient workman handle a job of lettering. 

If the beginner or amateur would pay a little more attention 
to the manipulation of the brush, than to the formation of each indi- 
vidual letter, he might learn something that would be of more 

The first thing that strikes the beginner when attempting brush 
strokes is the seeming unreliability of the brush. The absence of 
the feel of touch or contact with the marking surface is confusing. 
The inability to keep the tip in proper shape and width is additional 
trouble. All this results in a wavering uncertainty of lines, different 
degrees of thickness, which necessitates retouching and patch- 
ing up. 

The more a letter is doctored the worse it looks. The lines can 
be thickened up but never thinned down ; consequently in patching 
the thinnest elements of a letter it naturally thickens up, throwing 
the whole composition out of shape. 

The most logical way to overcome this difficulty is to use a 
brush that when properly filled with color will make a stroke equal 
in width to the thinnest element which appears in the letter or 
alphabet. The heavier elements can be made by doubling up the 
width of the strokes; meaning, two strokes side by side without 
imposing the second stroke on the first. (The method, of course, 
does not apply to outlining the letters and subsequently filling 
them in.) Unless on extremely large letters the outline method 
consumes too much time. 

With the proper amount of intelligent practice it will be found 
much easier and faster to build up a letter than to first outline and 
then fill it in. 

Taking the conception of the average artist for formation or 
drawing of any subject, it will be found that he usually models or 



builds up a rough mass or diagram of the entire structure much 
in the same manner that a sculptor first works up a crude resem- 
blance to the subject in its entirety as a mass composition. After 
the finishing touches have been completed correctly, it will be 
found that each component part has the proper relationship to 
the whole design. 

The main reason the average letterer fails to get at the correct 
balance and pleasing appearance to the finished product lies in the 
fact that he tries to build each individual letter as a perfect unit in 
itself, regardless of its relationship to the neighboring units or 
letters as a word, sentence, paragraph or whole design, or part and 
parcel of a whole design which may include other units, either in 
the shape of illustrations, decorations or borders. 

In Chapter 9 attention is called to general arrangement and the 
laws governing the same. A letterer may be able to make every 
alphabet known to the English-speaking people and make each and 
every letter perfectly according to the accepted standard as 
adopted by draftsmen and type experts and still have his work 
turned down solely through lack of finished appearance. I have 
repeatedly heard sign painters, show card writers, commercial 
artists and draftsmen criticize a piece of work by pointing out the 
defects in certain letters, while, as a matter of fact, for general 
appearance, punch, kick and attractiveness, the subject of their 
criticism was probably beyond their comprehension or ability. 

Lettering has always been considered a minor art, particularly 
so by artists and art instructors. It has been taught as such in insti- 
tutions of learning, principally from the viewpoint of draftsman- 
ship. Taught in this manner, lettering never gets the student any 

further than the ability to reproduce the stiff, dead draft of an 
inanimate object, lacking in grace, beauty and composition. 

Today, however, both instructors and students are looking 
deeper into the subject, not from curiosity alone, but from a realiza- 
tion of the fact that there is a growing demand for better work 
along these lines. New fields of endeavor are being opened up in 
all departments of publicity. 

That lettering plays a most important part in this scheme is 
evidenced by the demand for individual and characteristic styles of 
hand lettering in all display advertising matter. 

A glance through the pages of our leading periodicals will show 
that where type set-ups were almost exclusively used in display ad 
matter in the past, hand lettering is now 1 universally accepted as 
the "real big punch" as a selling factor. Why? It is not as mechani- 
cally perfect as type. It costs more, and in many instances it is not 
as legible. Many of the characters used are not as familiar, to the 
eye as type faces. There must be good and sufficient reason for 
the preference of hand lettering or reproduction of handwork. 

The subject of lettering is always interesting to letterers no 
matter whether they are sign or show card men, designers or 
daubers. One has only to study the proportions pf this field to 
realize its magnitude. Lettering today plays one of the most impor- 
tant parts in the scheme of design in poster art throughout conti- 
nental Europe, England and America. It is now being seriously 
taken up by many departments of education throughout the world, 
principally in vocational education, which branches are being more 
widely taught. 








Plate 115 



"First Principles" in Show Card Writing 

ABOUT the first alphabet a show card writer attempts to master 
is the ever-popular single stroke Roman. These letters are 
admirably adapted to construction with either lettering pen 
or brush. In various modifications Roman letters present a series 
of alphabets with which most readers are thoroughly familiar. 

The accented (heavy) and light lines are easily made. In fact, 
the manipulation of flat chiseled brushes or pens of the stub variety 
seems to conform to the construction of the elements of Roman 
letters automatically a broad down stroke and a thin lateral or 
side stroke, broadening out on the curves and ovals without any 
further effort on the part of the operator. 

The addition of the serifs or spurs is the chief cause for loss of 
speed, especially in adding sharp spurs finish on base alignment 
and on tops of the hairline elements, which, to be done properly, 
require almost an additional operation, performed with a slight 
roll or twist of the pen or brush between the fingers. In conse- 
quence of this it may be noted that the closer one attempts to 
imitate the regulation Roman the more time is consumed, and like- 
wise it is much more difficult to produce properly. 

These drawbacks have often prompted letterers to adopt modi- 
fications of the standard Roman letters that can be executed with 
greater rapidity. In attempting anything like this, it is well to 
remember that by changing any basic element or principle on any 
one letter this characteristic should be followed throughout the 
entire alphabet, in order to preserve the general appearance. In 
other words, it will not do to have a rounded spur or round finish 
base on one letter and a straight base spur on its neighbor. Such a 
treatment becomes more apparent in the finished production and 
the general appearance of the work suffers thereby. 

There are probably about a score of alphabets (known by their 


trade names) that are nothing more or less than Roman letters. 
The apparent difference is only a technical difference of treatment 
preserved in harmony throughout. The same applies to the Gothic, 
the various Italics, and the Texts, such as Old English, German, 
etc. Therefore, when you see an alphabet that looks good, reads 
well, and you are desirous of learning it, do not pick up a brush or 
pen and start practicing on it, for, unless you are a genius the result 
will be far from satisfactory. 

First determine to what series of alphabets it belongs Roman, 
Gothic, Text or Italic. In what particular does it differ from that 
with which you are familiar ? Is it the general thickness of strokes, 
the alternate degree of thick and thin lines, the smoothness or 
roughness of edges, the character of the finish or construction of 
serifs, the height of extension? Are the letters all condensed or 
extended ? Are the ovals of regular or irregular form ? 

Compare any one letter with one which you know how to make, 
then determine with just what kind of a brush or pen the elemen- 
tary strokes and finishes can be most easily made, always remem- 
bering that in hand lettering the chief characteristics of a letter are 
occasioned by the tool with which it is made. That is, if the letter 
is of any value to the letterer commercially. By this is meant, 
can it be produced fast enough to be of any value in your day's 
work ? 

The chief drawback to the letterer is struggling with imprac- 
tical letters made with the wrong tools. There are dozens of beau- 
tiful alphabets, type faces, artistic conceptions by individual artists 
that are utterly worthless from the point of view of one who has 
large quantities of work to turn out in a given length of time, and 
more especially if the attempt at reproduction is made with a tool 
not adapted to either the construction or finishing process. 


Single Stroke Roman 
abcdefgh i j kl m nop 
q r s t u vaw &xuy z a 

ab cdefgh ij k Imno 
pqrs tuvawuxyz. 

Plate 116 



Colors and Their Preparation 

THE question of Colors, their preparation and use, has ever 
been a perplexing problem, even to the initiated. As a matter 
of fact, in these days there are so many prepared colors on 
the market it hardly pays to bother with mixing, but it may be 
added that the best of ready colors require careful attention" to 
keep them in good working order. They will evaporate rapidly 
and the constituents become separated if not thoroughly stirred 
up at least once a day. The pigment will settle, leaving a watery, 
non-covering fluid on top. When evaporation takes place they be- 
come gummy. 

A formula for a white that will work well in both brush and pen 
is often sought. It can not be done satisfactorily, although the 
same constituents are used in both cases. Any white that will cover 
well from a brush is' usually too heavy for pen work, especially 
those of the broad stroke variety, and white that is of a sufficient 
fluidity to flow and cover in a pen is too thin to hold a brush to- 
gether and cover opaque in one stroke. 

Usually if brush white is thinned to proper consistency for pen 
use there is bound to be insufficient pigment body to cover opaque ; 
therefore, it dries out streaky and transparent in spots. Further- 
more, it is extremely difficult at the present time to get a first-class 
quality of white, either lead, zinc or flake, at any price. This is also 
true of many of the colors, principally reds, owing to the scarcity 
of dyes used in their preparation. 

I have used an imported dry English flake white with better all- 
around results than any mixture prepared in this country. This is 
extremely gritty and requires much grinding, but when all the 
lumps and grit are reduced and properly mixed with the binder, it 

is certainly "some white" for either brush or pen. It covers well 
even when thin. It is very heavy in pigment and must be kept 
well stirred at frequent intervals or it will settle. 

When mentioning being well ground up, this does not mean 
simply stirred up in a can or jar with a stick. It might be stirred 
for a month and still be sandy and gritty. 

If you have no paint mill take about a cupful of dry color, add 
about a tablespoon of Sanford's Royal Crown mucilage and suffi- 
cient water to make a thick paste, add one-half teaspoon of glycer- 
ine; get a slab of marble or plate glass, and grind this mass on the 
slab with a spatula, or long flexible table knife blade, adding a few 
drops of water occasionally when it gets too heavy to grind. If you 
exercise your muscles on this dope for a couple of hours it will be 
smooth as cream. Put about one-fourth of it in a receptacle for 
pen use ; simply thin with water and a few drops of alcohol to the 
proper consistency, and your pen white troubles will be few, if this 
preparation is kept well stirred. 

The remaining three-fourths put in another jar for your brush 
work. Use it a little thicker. 

If you can not get the imported flake white, mix best quality 
dry lead, one-half pound, Green Seal or American zinc, one pound. 
Treat this in the manner above mentioned. If it rubs up after 
drying, add a few drops of mucilage, carefully, as too much will 
render it transparent. Any other dry colors may be mixed in the 
same way. 

Blacks are another question. There are various brands of drop 
black, ivory black, lamp black, and blacks that are simply dyes. 
Blacks that contain dyes make the best ink, as they cover better. 



Lamp black is the finest and is free from grit, but it has a grayish 
tone. If you can procure water-soluble nigrosine dye, dissolve it 
in water to thin your lamp black, add glycerine and mucilage as in 
the white, and you will have a good covering, free-flowing black 
for either pen or brush in the proper consistencies. Or, mix lamp 
black and Letterine; this is also good in a pjnch. But, as stated 
before, any of these mixtures will soon go out of commission unless 
they are kept moist and well stirred up. 

The addition of glycerine helps to keep colors moist and gives 
a good pull ; but remember, they dry slower, and too much of it 
spells disaster to the covering and drying quality. The antidote 
for water color that dries too slowly is alcohol. 

Remember all these mixtures require personal experiment, rea- 
son and attention, much the same as any chemical research. Many 
think that simply throwing the ingredients together any old way 
ought to come out all right and do the work. If it doesn't, well, 
there is something the matter with the formula or the ingredients. 
All I have got to say for them is, I'd hate to eat their cooking. 

In buying dry colors it is best to specify that "C. P." (chemically 
pure) colors are wanted. Even though the first cost is higher they 
are cheapest and best for all purposes in the long run. 

Everything pertaining to the tools of the craft, the material in 
the cards, the inks and colors, should be studied for cause and 
effect. Never condemn anything that fails to meet with your ex- 
pectations at first trial. What may seem an impossibility today 
may be ridiculously easy tomorrow under different circumstances. 
There are seventeen hundred and six little trouble dodgers and time 

savers in this work. Here is the key to every question personal 

. Air Brush Colors 

If you are not satisfied with the prepared or ready-to-use air 
brush colors, and have the time to prepare your own mixtures, with 
the proper materials and some personal experiments a selection of 
tints and color blends, either waterproof or ordinary, can be made 
that will be superior in every way to the average ready-to-use 
article. However, at the time this is written it is difficult to procure 
dyes of reliable quality and the cost is excessive. 

Ad-el-ite dyes (Adams & Elting's), either water or spirit soluble, 
make excellent mediums and are extremely strong in coloring mat- 
ter. For black, use nigrosine dye. 

For waterproof air brush inks, dissolve sufficient jspirit soluble 
dye (of any desired color) to make desired shade, in a pint of de- 
natured alcohol. (Wood alcohol is not desirable as it dries too 
quickly, leaving a dust of color in the air or on the card.) Strain 
this through a wad of absorbent cotton in a funnel into another 
bottle, and add two ounces orange shellac. Shake well before using. 

To clean after using, blow clear denatured alcohol through the 
brush, otherwise the shellac will gum up and cause trouble. 

For ordinary air brush ink (not waterproof) use water soluble 
dye in the above proportion and in the same way. Add one ounce 
Sanford's Royal Crown mucilage to each pint of dye. 

If one desires to letter in white or tints over an air-brushed sur- 
face it will be necessary to use waterproofed ink, otherwise the 
dye comes through the color used. 






PLATE 117 





Alphabets related tothe"Gothic" letters, 
having eementary principles consisting 
of uniform width strokes throughout, to 
which may be added various different sets 
of finishing touches. Spurs Plugs or 
other trimmings, spacings, etc. which may 
serve to change the general appearance 
without altering the basic principles, a 

i - a c -7 I 8 Q 






\A wl w ww Commonly cdkd Spurred Gothic -^jf *~* 






Some Ideas for the Amateur in Show Card Writing 

THE "course of instructions" usually prescribed by teachers of 
lettering as particularly applied to show card writing during 
the past decade has proven a stumbling block to the beginner 
as well as a perplexing proposition to the amateur, principally 
due to the fact that it has not applied solely to show card writing 
as it should be as an individual art, but to sign painting and letter- 
ing collectively. 

Let it be understood thoroughly that in no sense is sign paint- 
ing allied with show card writing. The basic principles of produc- 
tion are totally unlike. The methods are entirely different, other- 
wise than both trades or arts make use of the same reading char- 
acters most easily read by the people of any nation or community. 

This does not associate the two trades or arts any more closely 
than that of the copper or steel plate engraver with the lithographer 
or printer, otherwise than they both make use of the same char- 
acters and alphabets. 

One would not directly associate a locomotive driver with a 
marine engineer. One may be unable to perform the duties of the 
other. The same idea prevails even more strongly that a sign 
painter must of necessity be a show card writer or vice versa, and 
that the ability to letter produces a combination of the two trades. 
Consequently the average course of instructions embodies just 
enough invaluable information, rules, whys and wherefores that 
apply in a general way to the formation of letters, the tools to be 
used, the methods of reproduction, etc., tending to the idea that a 
show card writer must or should be a happy combination of all- 
around letterer in every trade that makes use of A B C's. 

The usual result is an unhappy combination of ability that is, 
in fact, neither one or the other so far as being able to successfully 
fill the position or do the work of either a show card writer or sign 

The average sign painter is rarely able to make a good show 
card. The methods are widely different. The card made by a sign 
artist is usually a sign card. It looks like a sign. The lettering and 
layout have the general appearance of a sign and that's what it is. 
On the other hand, there are few show card men that could hold 
down a job in a commercial sign shop. 

Unless a person is endowed with natural talent and versatility 
it is a waste of energy to try to cover the entire field involving 
lettercraft. If you intend to become a finished workman in any par- 
ticular field apply all your energy to that one branch and stick to it. 
Forget that big idea of knowing it all. Sidetrack everything per- 
taining to generalities. Get a correct idea of just exactly what end 
you are working for, what you have to produce, reproduce, and 
how to get at it and finish in the best possible manner with the least 
degree of effort. The generalizing of ideas is a bog hole that 
should be given a wide berth. Don't get the idea that perfect letter- 
ing constitutes the main feature of what is generally conceded to 
be first-class work. 

There are many good letterers amongst the fraternity whose 
work lacks the general appearance in the finished production of 
their less fortunate co-worker, so far as analysis of letters is con- 
cerned. Their work is too good. It always looks the same whether 
the card pertains to fresh pork chops or blue white diamonds. The 



full ffound Ovals. Condensed Verticals. [ fytkic Variation?) 

J KLfin 

abcdef^h ij kl m no 

pq r 

PLATE 121 



minute you spy the card you see the ear-marks of the fellow who 
made it. It lacks the "kick" which really constitutes the value of 
any display advertising, illustrated or otherwise. 

Moral : Put the punch in the arrangement, not in the lettering. 

Cultivate a certain individuality in your work, but remember 
that even if you are partial to a certain style of layout or make of 
alphabet it may not fit the subject as well as something different 
in displaying the varied articles that require the use of special effort 
in salesmanship to get the other fellow's money. This subject re- 
quires considerable study and thought. Much valuable information 
may be obtained by observing and studying the more modern styles 
and display methods shown in magazine and newspaper advertising, 
movie slides, car cards, etc. 

I would suggest that for practice in layout you take the copies 
of ads such as appear in the high-class periodicals, and select such 
matter therefrom as will make a good reader. Try a pencil layout 
of the same wording in different forms of arrangement. Study 
which reads the most readily and conveys the same message in a 
pleasing and interesting manner. Familiarize yourself with the 
proper way to divide up the main points, the heading, the para- 
graphs, the sentences and the price. 

Get away from that old cut and dried idea that "big lettering" 
is what the people want. The majority of people think only as the 
other fellow thinks. 

Lettering is only as big as you can make it look, and if you fill 
up the card with big lettering there will be no contrasty effect. 
Contrast is really what constitutes size in appearance. A big man 
looks larger when in small company. The smaller the company, the 
bigger he looks. The same with lettering. 

Now, regarding lettering, naturally the first thing a beginner 
thinks of is alphabets. Something very mysterious about the alpha- 
bets. To the one who has not taken the time to consider basic 
principles, every alphabet is a different proposition because it looks 
different. Never in the wide, wide world can one become a letterer 
until he first thoroughly understands that all alphabets used by the 

English-speaking people are based on one identical principle which 
has been in use for ages. It has never changed and probably never 
will change. 

With slight modifications you can trace this basic principle 
through every alphabet ever designed. The only difference is in 
the classification and the different treatments, embellishments, shad- 
ings, difference in width of certain strokes, spacings-, etc. Anyone 
who fails to get these first principles thoroughly fixed in his mind 
has the wrong start. Different styles of alphabets that are accepted 
as correct are not the result of brainstorms like many of the illus- 
trations we see today. 

Many of the most popular alphabets we are familiar with are 
the result of careful study of design. They may represent the 
work of years to bring to perfection. They are thoroughbreds; 
every stroke bears the proper relation to its neighbor, and the 
finished production has to bear the stamp of approval not only of 
the artist and draftsman, but of the type founder, the printer, the 
engraver, and of the English-speaking people, who, by the way, are 
very critical. 

Almost any schoolboy can instantly detect a letter that is wrong 
in a page of reading matter belonging to any particular series of 
letters. He may not be able to tell what is wrong, but it is not 
right. It throws the word out of joint to the sight, much the same 
as a discord shocks the hearing. We can all detect an upper case 
letter amongst lower. It does not belong in the middle of a word. 
Likewise the printer can detect a mixture of type faces by the feel 
of it. 

I would advise all beginners, amateurs (and many of the pro- 
fessionals) to go to the public libraries and peruse some of the 
authorities on lettering, ancient and modern. Forget alphabets for 
awhile, at least until you have formulated some idea of what you 
are really aiming at by classification. This may give you a start in 
the right direction, for, from the appearance of some of the work 
we have been offered for criticism, the producer must be working 
without any definite object in view. 






also the most 

ffactiv in 

is to have the 

widest margin 

at the bottom. 

the top next tnd 

the two sides less 

And * 1 i k . 

Plate I 

Plate V 



consists of a line drawn 

at equal distance from 

the edge All the wa^y 

round- or . blank space 

of even width on both. 

sides -top and bottom 

it ia uninteresting in effect - 

in mucK the earns ratio as a 

square or a circle is not so 

pleasing to the eye as the 
oblong or oval- There is a 

certain Interest in these forms 

because of contrast jo two lengths 

Pla_te n 

Plate Yl 


cyou must get a general l*uv 
cf* center antf the placing of 
matter on the card with due 
re/a&on to center -Tfa Optical 
center ts a tittle above real 
center and around t/us is the 
nafura/ foca/ion &r tfie center of 


y\ --" 

Actual ^ Ce IT tet-. 

Balance is reckoned from - 
lelt to right of a vartical 
Hn? cirawn^ through the 
same point. --- The oye 
instinctLveiy locates that 
point the same eis it first 
fbci-ises in |th.e canter 
of any circle. 


Plate vu 


Uly ! 

Show! Card 

primarily in 

its object 

it distresses the 

nerve through the 


our Of i/fff writ me 

applicaltipn of the law 
of crra.vita.tion to the 
eye is called balance. 

Plate vm 



Arrangement and Balance in Show Card Lettering 

THE practical end of this most important branch of the work 
may be called a science or an art ; in fact, properly speaking, 
it must be a happy combination of both to be effective, pleas- 
ing and artistic. Unlike the printer's art of composition, the ar- 
rangement and spacing of hand lettering is not hampered by 
uniformity of certain letter widths ; therefore, within certain limits 
the composition of hand lettering can be more artistically and effec- 
tively arranged. Therein lie's the true value of the hand-lettered 
advertisement, and not in the mechanical likeness to type faces, as 
is most generally supposed by the beginner and by many profes- 
sional letterers. 

As these chapters apply mainly to show cards, the occasional 
implication to hand-lettered ads may be taken literally, for a show 
card is a hand-lettered ad. A wide selection might be made from 
the examples of today that would be far superior to many of the 
high-priced ads displayed in our newspapers, magazines and peri- 
odicals. The perpetrators of many of these so-called works of 
art get real money for their productions, while if the same proposi- 
tion were to be put out as a show card, the artist (?) would be 
lucky to draw down six bits for the effort. 

Up to the present we have not touched the subject of arrange- 
ment, commonly called layout. This is in reality a most important 
feature of the work, and it may be said that outside of a few cut 
and dried, hackneyed, old-time layouts, very little attention is given 
this subject. 

Therein lies the one big reason why the average show card man 
never gets any further than the time-clock and Saturday envelope. 

His lettering may be excellent, but his best efforts have the tire- 
some sameness as last year's work. 

Let me suggest something: If you would forget that everlast- 
ing (and in most cases, hopeless) struggling effort to perfect the 
individual letter faces and pay more attention to effective arrange- 
ment, you may begin to find out something about lettering that has 
been overlooked for as long as you have been in the business. The 
different adaptations of the quick, easy styles will automatically 
adjust themselves to much better advantage and general appear- 
ance with less labor and at a great time saving. 

Most letterers realize the fact, or should, that certain letters 
or alphabets are impractical for handwork, either with brush or 
pen. This being the case, we adopt certain modifications of these 
letters that become practical because their production is semi- 
automatic, not particularly with any pen or brush that happens 
to be handy, but with certain special brushes or pens that produce 
strokes which constitute elements of the finished product. 

It naturally follows that the work takes on the characteristic 
imposed by the individual strokes of the tools employed; the dif- 
ferent appearance displayed in these instances by different work- 
men using the same identical implements is mostly effected by their 
individual technique much the same as a class of students in pen- 
manship under the same instructor, using the same kind of pens. 
At the end of a certain period of time each student has developed, 
or will eventually develop, an individuality or style of writing that 
is peculiar to himself, although based on the one system. This is 
also true in lettering if one is left to his own devices or natural 



A 1 11 It/ V/ Z tlX^ IV 


finol all Headings and ti 
body talk ta some maimor 
suggestive of a gconptrb 
unity of th@ QtititP dosigit- 


adaptability, and in many cases each in his own particular style de- 
velops into a crackerjack along certain lines. 

But the real trouble begins for him that fails to let this indi- 
viduality have a fair chance and allows himself to imitate some 
other person's style of work. He becomes a copyist. He may 
eventually equal his ideal, but seldom excels, unless, by some freak 
of nature, he is endowed with what is known as "versatility," in 
which case he is able to reproduce a fairly creditable copy of any 
style of work that happens to strike his fancy ; but such cases are 
very rare. 

However, no matter what your individual capabilities are as a 
letterer, if your arrangement is clever the work will instantly com- 
mand attention where good lettering, indifferently arranged, will 
be passed by without comment. 

There are certain well-defined laws of arrangement based on 

balance, gravity and area. Lettering show cards is in effect the 
same as designing a printed set-up. 

First, the matter should be related to the shape and size of the 
space in which it goes. It should harmonize with that space accord- 
ing to these laws. It should have around it margins or plain spaces. 

The Greek law of area says : "If you have a ratio between 
three widths, or three sizes, which is approximately as five is to 
seven and to eleven, you will have nearly the most comfortable ab- 
stract proportions." 

It makes a difference in catching the eye what the margin is. 
The most effective margin is widest at the bottom, top next, and 
the two sides less and alike (see Plate 1). The relation of these 
widths should be in the ratio of eleven units to seven and to five, 
which is the first application of the Greek law to the margined 

In Plate 2 the mechanical margin consists of a line drawn at 
equal distance from the edge all the way round, or a blank space 
of equal width. 

Regardless of marginal line, either real or imaginary, the read- 
ing matter or decorations must be kept in balance, either if in one 
mass of lettering or in several groups of masses, such as separating 
the headings, the descriptive matter and prices into different groups, 
as shown in Plate 3. 

A badly balanced group of masses representing either decora- 
tions, illustrations or reading matter, is shown in Plate 4. One of 
the fundamental principles of arrangement is balance, and is 
reckoned from a vertical line drawn through center from top to 
bottom. ., 

Attractions which are equal in size, shape, color, etc., balance at 
equal distances from their center (Plate 5). Unequal attractions 
balance at distances from their centers in inverse ratio to their 
powers of attraction (Plate 6). 

This is due to the law of gravitation, which, applied to the eye, 
is called balance, and is the chief element of criticism in any form 
of design. 



Consistently related shapes are controlled by the law of propor- 
tion, that which attracts attention by perfect balance of a variety 
of shapes in a common group. Therefore, consistently related 
shapes as applied to groups or masses of lettering or decorations 
constitute the first principle in the arrangement of a show card. 

For instance, if we have a copy consisting of a heading or catch 
line, then a mass of descriptive matter and price mark, the placing 
of these groups on the card must, to be effective, be controlled by 
these laws. If not, and the result is still pleasing, it is an accident 
and not likely to occur in any other instance where different copy 
or decorations are used. This is one reason why sometimes an 
effective card is produced without any apparent reason. 

' For variety of common shapes we have the square, circle, oblong, 
triangle and ellipse. The limit of contrast is the square and circle. 
They are likewise the most monotonous. There is more interest in 
the oblong or ellipse, because of their two lengths. 

If you have a copy separated into the heading, a price and a 
paragraph of descriptive matter, the most inharmonious method of 
arrangement that could be devised would be to square the head- 
lines, put the price in a circle and the descriptive matter in an 
oblong panel below. Therein lies the consistent variety of shapes. 

If your copy contains a headline and two or three paragraphs 
of reading matter, a price and probably the firm name, the masses 
should bear the proper size relation in a consistent variety of shapes, 
and the whole properly balanced somewhat like the masses shown 
in Plate 3. In the first place, the heading should be of the size and 
length suggested by its value in the copy and not be spaced to make 
a full length line. Where the Jongest line is also the heaviest line, 
it should be above the center of the composition. 

Brushable Modifications 

of Modern Standard-Roman Type Faces 




It is always advisable to make a pencil layout of copy with 
which you are not familiar. It saves time and adds value to the 
appearance of the finished product. You may be a good space 
guesser, but not infallible in all cases, and crowding a line is more 
disastrous to appearance than wide spacing. 

Plate 7 shows diagram of correct border, actual and optical cen- 
ter and line of balance. Plate 8 speaks for itself, while Plate 9 
shows a geometric form of arrangement that is extremely popular 
at the present time, and is also very appropriate for the lettering of 
moving picture subtitles or page matter of any description. 








PLATE iaa. 



Brushable modifications based oit- 




Letters of this character should be either 
of single- stroke or modeled construction^ 
N01E illustrative instruction- Plate 123 

PLATE 123 




Stumped with a blunt 



Plate .124 




W -letters of tiiis character aw 
most easier made by stump- 
ittg methods, using a short. 
y blunt, brush well flooded with 
medium thick or heavy color. J j 

Plate 125 



Note Triangular Serifs 

pqrstuvwxyz imii 


Plate 12,6 


Text Foster- Single Stroke 

rstuv speed- 


Plate 127 



Poster Styfe-with a blunt brush- 


wxyz 6-oeivnv 




Diagrammatical Analysis of Letters 

THE architectural draft of a complete structure is seldom given 
much thought or attention by the casual observer. All that is 
seen of the subject in its finished state is the general appear- 
ance. An illustration of the human figure, either nude or draped 
in ordinary or fancy apparel, may be either good or bad. The treat- 
ment of the drapery, the coloring and general arrangement may 
be in itself excellent, but if the structural figure is badly drawn or 
posed the pleasing effect is lost. 

Obviously, an artist must be familiar with the anatomy of a 
figure before he is able to reproduce it in a manner calculated to 
excite the admiration of the beholder. 

To this end, if properly taught, he is given a thorough course 
of instruction in anatomy; he must familiarize himself with bone 
structure and muscular tissue of the human figure. Mere outlines 
will not give one the insight required to become a successful figure 
painter or portrait artist. 

Many of the best illustrators proceed to sketch a draped study 
by first*making a deliberate outline sketch of the nude in any de- 
sired pose, after which the dress, drapery or clothing is systemati- 
cally drawn, arranged over the figure. If the first draft is correct 
it naturally follows that the drawing of the clothing or draperies 
on the figure is more liable to assume correct and graceful propor- 
tions than if drawn in a haphazard manner by one not thoroughly 
familiar with the anatomical proportions and life-like poses of the 

We have all noted the absurd and unlife-like appearance of 
clothed or draped window display dummies or wax figures. No 
matter how elegant the gown or correct the finish, cut and style of 

garment displayed on a badly proportioned or ill-stuffed dummy, 
it loses its value in appearance anatomically. 

The foregoing is simply presented as a comparison of correct 
and incorrect formation of letters. If one is thoroughly familiar 
with what may be aptly termed the correct anatomical formation 
of a letter or alphabet, its actual production then becomes a mat- 
ter of intelligent and persistent practice, using the tools best 
adapted to producing the elementary parts in proper combination, 
using a series of regular movements of the arm, hand and fingers 
best calculated to become semi-automatic and rhythmical in action 
by continued repetition. 

Too much can not be said of the excellent results derived from 
the exercises prescribed by teachers of penmanship. Practically 
the same results will occur in freehand lettering if one persists in 
certain rhythmical movement exercises of the arm arid fingers. 

What is familiarly known as "the swing" is absolutely neces- 
sary to do graceful lettering. But the swing of the arm and fingers 
in manipulating a pencil, brush or pen must also include "control" 
both on slow and rapid movements. 

Having acquired the combination of swing and control by prac- 
tice on certain exercises based on the elements of letters, consisting 
of circles, ovals, vertical and horizontal lines, strokes and angles, 
then actual formation of letters becomes a semi-automatic proposi- 
tion directed by the brain through the sight. 

Primarily the sight is directed by the brain. Simply seeing an 
object denotes sight, but to see it as it really is requires study, 
either much or little, depending largely on individual qualifications 
along certain lines. 




To reproduce an object as one actually sees it, or imagines it to 
be, depends largely on natural ability. All arguments to the con- 
trary are theoretical. -However, any person possessed of average 
mental faculties and not physically disabled will be able to improve 
in any line of endeavor if aided by proper instruction. To accom- 
plish even this, however, one must be given the correct start, the 
. fundamental principles. 

All labor, study, practice and effort must be properly directed 
or the result is either failure or near failure. Any part of the en- 
deavor that is misdirected has a tendency to retard the progress 
of the entire proceeding. Unfortunately, there are many who are 
grinding and plugging away at the various crafts, and, having begun 
in the middle, the .missing link to connect with success has been 
inadvertently left behind. 

As applied to the subject of lettering, the link may be any one 
of many items principle, form, material, tools, movement, control, 
speed, attention, observation, instruction, the sense of sight princi- 
pally as applied to the mind's eye, colors, imagination, inspiration, 

. Without the ability to criticize one's own efforts, a continuation 
along the same lines without apparent good results is sufficient 
proof that there is something radically wrong. A self-analysis then 
becomes necessary. First determine just what particular element 
is lacking in your physical or mental make-up. 

If you are working with your own imagination as to form or 
method of production, just why are you so doing? 

Are you trying to copy any certain style or grade of work, and, 
if so, are you using the identical mediums employed in their pro- 

Do you think it possible to engrave a watch case with a pickaxe? 
Have you that particular ability or technique to reproduce all the 
various styles of work displayed along your main street with the 
same tools you ordinarily use ? If not, is there any particular style 
you admire sufficiently to direct all your energy toward reproducing 






it? Can you make any particular alphabet better, faster and cleaner 
than another? 

It is necessary that you should have the correct structural 
formation of each letter firmly imprinted in the mind's eye. Other- 
wise your preliminary practice on drafting, formation or the move- 
ments necessary to successful lettering is misdirected. 

Speaking of lettering from a draftsman's viewpoint, it is first 
necessary to become familiar with the fundamental principles of 
lettering in order to get the proper idea fixed in your mind's eye. 
This far and no further should you go according to the applied rules 
of drafting. 

Plates A and B show the capitals and small letters of the Roman 
alphabet in the proportionate size and space relationship as dia- 
grammatically laid out by accepted authorities. Mathematically 
they may be wrong by a small fraction, but for all practical pur- 
poses in hand lettering they are about as close as you will find 
use for. 

It may be noted that Roman originally consisted of the capitals 
only. Small letters were designed and adopted only after the art 
of printing came into use. You will notice that each small letter 
occupies a space dimension of nearly a square, which has been 
divided into- nine parts. The space occupied by each letter in the 
square is defined by these sections of the square in nearly the cor- 
rect shape. The extended letters above the line may occupy either 
two-thirds the height of the letter or extended to the third square 
above, making them the exact height above the line as the height 
of the letter. 

The letters extending below the line are two-thirds only. The 
capitals occupy a certain well-defined space within each square. 
Note the relative widths. These letters will serve as a base upon 
which, to devise your individual conceptions of the Roman alphabet. 

Plate C represents the structural formation of Roman letters, 
the relation of oval and circular elements to the horizontal and 
vertical. This plate is not intended as a method of construction, 
but simply a preliminary imaginative nude sketch of constructive 
formation upon which to arrange the clothing; meaning, in other 
words, a mental sketch to be thoroughly fixed in the mind's eye 
a visionary superstructure invisible in the finished production, but 
always apparent by indication of correct form in the finished letter, 
much in the same manner as a stylish, well-fitted gown or suit may 
be observed draping a correctly formed human figure. The actual 
figure is unseen, but the structure is visibly apparent. One can not 
think of a squirrel and draw it correctly if unfamiliar with its 
anatomical proportions. Yet it is known that some misguided in- 
dividuals have worked on certain propositions for years before 
tumbling to the fact that all previous efforts have been misap- 

Note Plates Nos. l-O and 126, original 14 x 22. The two top lines, 
Plate l-O, made with a Daily brush worked down to a fine point ; 
the bold face alphabet made with No. 15 Daily brush. Note absence 
of hair lines ; also note peculiar formation of the spur finish. This 
is a single stroke letter, very fast ; the spurs are three-cornered on 
the base; they are formed by a continuation of the down stroke 
by pulling the brush to the left on the base line, and without raising 
the point from the card or changing position, pull to the right, then 
lift brush from the paper ; this gives the three-corner spur without 
further effort or trim-up. The top spurs are sharp angles on the 
perpendiculars, of b-d-h-i-j-1-m-n-q-r-u, and a side drag three- 
corner spur on tops of v-w-x and y, and the same -in all capital 
spurs. A wide spacing gives this letter a unique effect, as shown in 
the small letters of second line (of Plate No. l-O) ; they may be 
effectively condensed also. 




ack my box w itli live dozen ipr j 

alphabetical sentences 

23156789 \l 

Plate 129 









Rapid Single and Double Stroke Numerals 

GOOD figures or numerals are even more essential than good 
lettering. To be able to "knock 'em out" in a rush is nine 
points in your favor. A neat numeral adds a large percentage 
to the value of a display card, and as for price tickets, many stores 
use thousands per week. 

The numerals on a window full of tickets should be all of the 
same character. Mixing the styles of numerals on tickets appear- 
ing in the same window is poor judgment. 

In many department stores single stroke figures are used ex- 
clusively, as time will not permit outlined Roman styles. Other 
stores will not stand for a single stroke Egyptian or Gothic figure. 
A fairly good Roman figure for small work can be made by the 
single stroke method with either a Soennecken or Hunt's 400 pen or 
brush, but it requires considerable practice to acquire the requisite 
speed which imparts the appearance of freedom and graceful, 
swingy strokes. 

Did you ever notice a professional penman make a combination 
of two or more capital letters ? The method he employs would 
serve as an excellent object lesson for the show card writer, espe- 
cially in making single-stroke Italic numerals or letters. It is 
almost impossible to draw a graceful letter or numeral. The very 
fact that it is drawn precludes the possibility of imparting the 

A naturally good penman or a person who has acquired the 
ability to write gracefully will find it much easier to acquire a dis- 
tinctive, characteristic style of lettering than one who has to draw 
the characters. A penman who resorts to drawing his script is really 
not considered a penman. He may be able to execute a beautiful 

style of engraver's script, copperplate effects, etc., but his efforts 
show in the work, and a mechanic of that particular school would 
do better by being an engraver. 

There are many cardwriters who would likewise double their 
earning capacity in the field of commercial art, lettering for repro- 
duction purposes. The amount of labor, time, effort and skill de- 
voted to producing a single show card is often worthy of a higher 

Some of. the show cards that are turned out in the big shops are 
marvels of grace and accuracy. As a matter of fact, they are actu- 
ally too good for the purpose intended. Their sameness year in 
and year out becomes monotonous. 

To my notion they frequently resemble memorials, stock stuff. 
One single stereotyped design is made to cover all purposes for 
' advertising "Spring styles now ready for your inspection" to 
"Xmas greeting," which you all too frequently see in the tailor 
shops, shoe shops, hat shops, and all other shops that deal in wear- 
ables for men, women and children regardless of age, race, sex, size 
or color. 

The merchants have been fed upon this stuff so long and so plenti- 
fully that it has become a habit. The next-door dealer may have 
the same stunt in his window for a certain occasion. Maybe he has 
dug it out of a year's hiding place in the safe to serve the same 
purpose as on a former occasion. His standard of excellence in dis- 
play card publicity is based on what his competitor used year before 
last with seeming good results. 

I note particularly that in various trade papers and periodicals 
there appear with a well-defined regularity articles pertaining to 



A Few Practical. Rapid Numerals 
19&1567S9O $42$e<? 

12 34 5 67 89 0-234 <fi 



12345676QO 1234567St)0 t 

Outlined Construction 

(234S6789 123456760 



show card writing, with illustrations. The only difference ap- 
parent is in the wording. The cards, the lettering, the layout and 
general effect might lead the average observer to believe that all 
show card writers learned their trade under one tutelage. 

Therein, to my notion, lies the chief difficulty in getting money 
for the work. If there is but one standard or style of workmanship 
that is acceptable by the consumer, 90 per cent, of us better direct 
our efforts in some other direction. For the element of competi- 
tion resolves itself into only one consideration a cut in price to 
get business and that spells disaster to all concerned except the 
customer, and in 90 per cent, of such cases the work suffers. That 
is the only way a price-cutter can break anywhere near even. 

There are three different angles of the show card writer's work 
the department store, the show card shop, and the window deco- 
rator, who makes his own cards. 

The department store artist is usually a well-appearing sort of 
chap, just about six jumps behind the clock all the time. If ever he 
sees an empty order hook he doesn't believe it. He begins to worry 
about the rush he knows is on the way up. 

No man need envy the decorator's job that carries the addi- 
tional labor of writing cards. True, the envelope is heavier, .but 
it's certainly worth it. 

The shop man must be an all-round hustler. To be successful 
he must not only be a versatile workman ; he must be also a busi- 
ness man, an ad writer, having a never-failing fund of suggestions, 
stunts, color harmonies, new ideas or old ones reclothed. He must 
be able to think of six different things while doing three others, 
but, after all, there is a certain diversification in shop work that 
precludes much monotony. Even if it is "all work," he's the man 
that usually sets the pace for the other fellow. 





Alphabets are 
original only so 
far as indiviouial 
treatment and 
technic alters 
the appearance 
without change 
oFkasic principle 

Bold Display 

Adap ted 
from Koman 

Plate 132 



Economy of Motion as an Aid to Speed 

NOWADAYS 'tis "speed," and to this end every element of 
drag, lost motion, useless movement and obsolete method in 
lettering must be eliminated if one expects to .accomplish the 
quantity of work that the present-day craftsman is called upon to 
produce in a day's time. 

After having determined, by careful experiment, just what 
brushes and pens are best adapted to your individual requirements, 
and having carefully studied and familiarized yourself with the 
forms and principles of certain alphabets suitable to your line of 
work, then, and not until then, will you be able to develop some- 
thing that resembles individual style and character. 

It has been aptly said by some of the most able craftsmen that 
lettering should be as individual in style as is handwriting. 

Aside from professional penmen and teachers of writing (who 
usually abide by certain well-defined principles and systems), you 
will hardly find two in ten thousand adults who write alike. This 
fact has been proven by experts. Every individual who has any 
considerable amount of writing to do will naturally drift into a 
short-cut system entirely original with himself, regardless of the 
system under which he was primarily taught or instructed. Some 
never develop into good writers, but the average business man of 
today can produce a page of writing that is fairly good to look 
upon anu in many instances is artistic to the eye of the professional 
penman. If the artistic element is properly cultivated the writing 
would be more pleasing in appearance, still retaining the individual 
character. This is not theory ; it is certain, and, as applied to hand 
lettering, the same result will sooner or later become apparent. 

However, the student of lettering has a greater latitude to work 

in owing to the diversified styles of alphabets in common use. The 
ordinary mistake in devising an alphabet lies, in using a mixed 
series of basic principles. For instance, in taking two alphabets 
based on Roman, like the Caslon and DeVinne, a careful study of 
the elements involved in their construction shows a wide departure 
each from the other. 

One should study these differences from type books and not 
from hand lettering to thoroughly understand this theory, as hand 
lettering will always deviate from its origin to a certain extent, re- 
gardless of the skill of the operator. This fact is the result of in- 
dividuality "and is what makes hand lettering an art in itself. If 
replicas of type faces constitute perfection, hand lettering would 
probably cease to exist as an applied art in all but the most extra- 
ordinary cases, owing to commercialism. 

Plate 23 represents the Caslon Old Style, as modeled with a 
No. 6 Rigger brush (size of original, 12 x 15), which resembles the 
type of that name as closely as the average letterer will attempt 
with any degree of speed, which, as a matter of fact, is too slow, 
for this type does not readily respond to rapid treatment with a 
brush and it is practically impossible to "single stroke" this letter 
with a pen. 

There are various modifications of this style letter that, when 
properly reduced and arranged, present a very attractive and artis- 
tic appearance. Plates 24 and 133 are fair representations. 

The Italics and their modifications, based on this series, are 
among the most beautiful of all types of that nature, some of which 
may be very rapidly executed when their chief peculiarities are 
rendered brushable by the single stroke method. 



Caslon Old Style Italic 


|'|; : -?|| wwxyz | 

Rapid drushable modifications 

abed efgcik ijklm nopqr 

stuv- single stroke-wxy 





Caslon Old Style 

in brush modeling". 

pqr s tuvwxyz & 








PLATE 133 

I do not wish to discourage the efforts of those who make letters 
by the outline method or by the methodical labors of the drafts- 
man. But in comparison with the work as it is rendered by the 
modern, successful commercial letterer of today with that which 
has been done in the past by other methods of the "old school," we 

Single Stroke Letter 
Derived from Caslon 


uvwxyz oe& 

Brushable Adaptations of 

Standard Alphabets. 



have only to look at the results. Bear in mind that I am not speak- 
ing of the engraver, the lithographer, or the draftsman, or of their 
methods. I am referring to the work of the commercial letterer, 
the newspaper artist, the show card writer, etc., who of necessity 
are compelled to produce large quantities of work in a rush. 


Modifications of Type Faces Adapted to Brush Work 

THE standard alphabets based on Roman upper and lower case 
are known by various type terms, some of which bear the 
name of the designer. Prominent among these are Caslon and 
DeVinne. While each of these two types is distinctively of Roman 
origin and principle, they are widely different in construction and 
appearance. For various reasons the Caslon type is extremely diffi- 
cult to produce with a pen or brush ; very few letterers have been 
successful in producing anything in close resemblance to this type 
with any degree of speed, consequently it has met with little favor 
by the average letterer. 

The DeVinne style, of which two alphabets are herewith illus- 
trated Regular and Italic is one of the easiest types of Romans 
to make with a brush or pen using either the single stroke or two- 
stroke modeled construction. 

The constructive elementary strokes bear a well-defined regu- 
larity throughout that is particularly adapted to production with 
a flat-chiseled brush or pens of the Soennecken or Hunt 400 variety. 

I want you to realize that good lettering in proper arrangement 
is by far more important than decorative stunts. A good income 
in this business may be derived from the ability to letter plain cards 
rapidly, but poorly lettered cards with amateur decorations have no 
commercial value to the live advertising manager. 

Learn to letter first. Then learn the artistic during leisure mo- 
ments without interfering with your earning capacity. 

About 75 to 80 per cent, of the hand-made display cards used 
are simply plain black and white, or red and black, or white with a 
marginal line; if the lettering is fairly well done and attractively 
arranged, the work gets the money, particularly if of good arrange- 

ment. The average beginner or amateur card writer makes his big- 
gest mistake in attempting the decorative before being able to 
correctly dot an "i." 

The advertising business man is too well educated along these 
lines to pay for inferior lettering disguised with a bunch of ama- 
teurish decorative effects, most of which are plastered on and 
around the lettered matter to hide the defects in lettering, spacing 
and arrangement. 

It is a fact that the making of many a good workman is badly 
hampered by the inclination to attempt the ornamental prema- 



Patterns of wide variety 
to suit all tastes. Quality 
assured by an actual test 
of over 63 years service 
in American households. 

PLATE '25 



Show Card Style DeMnne 



Y stuvwxyx- W 


turely, thereby forgetting or overlooking the fundamental necessi- 
ties that are lacking in a critical examination of their efforts in an 
ornamental direction. 

If one is able to make one good alphabet, either Roman or 

DeVinne Italics 

qrs tu vwxyzsi 



Gothic, one good pen alphabet, and a good set of figures, and do all 
this fast enough in proper arrangement, he can hold down the 
average department store job. 

For all around shop work the requirements are greater. 



a Shcw Gaid Characteristic 



dose packed 5facin< 

ftll round orab, condensed upridcte. 

T"*\1 - -OTT- > JL ^- < ' 

Plate 154- 





Italics for Speed Lettering 

FOR various mechanical reasons, due probably to motions or ac- 
tions that respond most easily to natural muscular movement, 
letters which have an angular slant are easier to make and 
can be produced with greater rapidity than perpendicular char- 
acters. It may be also due to the fact that our earlier training in 
the practice of penmanship has something to do with this. The 
uniformity of slant is easier to maintain on an angle than straight 
up. The careful attention required to keep the balance in perpen- 
dicular letters is reduced in the production of Italics. 

Did it ever occur to you that real quality appearance of perpen- 
dicular letters, or, in fact, anything that stands upright on its own 
base without having the appearance of being propped up, is due 
to the law of balance? Not only should each individual letter have this 
appearance, but the entire mass or body of lettering should be so 
arranged that its appearance as a design or as a whole should either 
be as if suspended from a balance center, like a plumb bob, or 
else to stand firmly on its own foundation without real or imaginary 
props. Balance, then, to my notion, plays the most important part 
as one of the chief fundamental principles of any design ; in this 
respect we may designate any single letter or group of letters as a 
design. Irrespective of whether it is made on a slant or perpen- 
dicula'r, the general appearance must still maintain the effect of 
being balanced. 

If it has a tippy effect, either to right or left, it is improperly 
constructed. Therefore, in the Italic characters, if an individual 
letter has a tippy look, or appears to be standing on edge, it is out 
of balance ; if an entire mass of lettering looks "skeed" the arrange- 
ment is faulty. 

Some of the cards seen on display have been really excellent 
examples of good workmanship, so far as the lettering and layout 
were concerned, but for some reason there appeared to be a lack of 
security in foundation, whereby the effect of stability was lost. 
Did you ever note the effect produced by a picture hung out of 
balance? It doesn't matter how good the picture may be or what 
the subject is, to one who has any natural sense of balance the 
effect is uncomfortable. The impelling impulse is to first straighten 
up or balance the picture in order to view the perspective from a 
well-balanced angle or point of view. 

Subconsciously every act or effort we perform in life is governed 
by the laws of gravity and balance. It naturally follows that every 
structure, design, mass or object is controlled by these same laws. 
Dealing, then, with letters, either singly or in groups, their arrange- 
ment into reading matter, or masses, such as paragraphs or pages, 
or in certain defined space limits, the law of balance should first be 

Personally, I am unable to give a reliable, scientific dissertation 
on the laws of balance or gravity, but the application of the princi- 
ples is supposed to be generally understood in a manner sufficient 
by the individual possessed with the average amount of intelligence 
with whom I am supposed to be passing opinions regarding the sub- 
ject of lettering. So any further enlightenment on the said laws 
will have to be dug up through the proper authorities by the in- 
dividual desiring such knowledge, for I feel that I am getting in 
over my head. 

It may be sufficient to explain that in the arrangement of letters 
in reading matter on a card, balance is defined from a line drawn 



<Sho-Card Saipt Italics. 

abcdefghi/klm . 


Q 9a$ Say/ modificatioa 

wxyz all continuous and 
runninqliand curves* 

&ext Jtalics 

Sased on a combination, of Roman 
an6 016 English f&xt. Very effective 
for Ornamental ^Headings or forge 
masses of reading matter, but if 
improperly spaced -in indifferent or 
sprawlu arrangement it becomes 
too illegible for comme/Tcial purposes. 

pqrstav w-vw-xyz. 

<~Divirsifie6 Capitals. 








Uniform broad-strokes-^- 
"Me bold Display Italics 


,1 ' 4 / 

this class of wort- to 
be effective -requiws 
particulai- attention* 
to condensed spacing 
and arrangement in, 
some geometric form 
tvfAer than formation 
of letteiv-tion'tsprayl 
all- over- the card 





Showeardwriterh Script 



Plate 1d6 



Italics Note slight degree slant. 

ABCDEFG abcdefg-hi 
HIJKLMNO jklmnopq 
PQRSTUVWT rstuvwxyj 
ZZSTUVWXM klhbdpfnmiL& 

Dlntc l.\7 * <J 

perpendicularly through center from top to bottom. Naturally if 
the matter is evenly distributed on both sides of this line it may be 
considered well balanced. If, however, we have various groups of 
masses to arrange, such as groups of lettering, decorations or illus- 
trations, the question of balance then becomes more complicated. 
It is insufficient to balance each mass individually without due re- 
gard for the relative effect of the other larger or smaller masses, 
applying to the whole design, within the given space limit. 

For instance, if we have a mass of lettering situated well up in 
the left-hand corner, and a smaller mass to balance this on the 
right-hand side of center, it must be far enough away from the 
larger mass or of a heavier appearance to denote balance. To get 
this result we have to determine the power of attraction of different 
size groups of masses. 

Attractions which are equal in size, shape, color, etc., balance at 
equal distance from their centers. Unequal attractions balance at 
distances from their center in inverse ratio to their powers of 
attraction. See Chapter 9, Plates V and VI. 

Returning to the Italics, Plate 1 is the regulation single stroke 
Roman Italic with some slight modifications for rapid execution. 
Note the serifs or spurs on tops of the lower case letters above are 
all on a right angle slant instead of horizontal. Likewise with .the 
capitals. The modification below is constructed with curves through- 
out, both styles lettered with Hunt's 400 No. 1 pen. 

Plate 2 is somewhat similar in principle, but an element of Old 
English is used in place of Roman serifs, which gives it an entirely 
different characteristic appearance. Originals are upright quarter 
sheets lettered with Hunt's No. 400 pens, Nos. 1 and 2. 

Plate 3 is an effective derivative of Roman Italic and Script ; its 
characteristic is principally effected by the pen with which it is 
made the "Romitalic" No. 1. 

Plate 4 in its fundamental construction is the same proposition 
as Plate 1, the Roman Italic, but in place of the round writing pen 
a Style A Speedball No. 1 and 2 B was used, which strokes impart 
the heavy face display type appearance. 

Many merchants and department store managers do not advo- 
cate the use of Italics, but wherever it is possible to use them it is 
done at a great time saving on the part of the card writer, especially 
where excess copy jobs have to be turned out in a limited time. If 
Italics were properly made and attractively arranged, the objection 
to their use would not be so pronounced. Generally, however, when 
a card writer resorts to Italics, for speed or knockout purposes, he 
simply neglects the lettering; hence the objection. 



Bold Single Stroke Italic 

ABCDEFGH abcdefghi 
IJKLMNOPQ jklmnopqr 
RSTUVWXYZ stuvwxyz& 

Practice Strokes on the Elements 

////nn (oi)wwi3^!LT 

cia Hinc^ctssc 



Graceful Swing Vs. Laborious Draft in Lettering 

IT has been truthfully stated and proven by many of the fore- 
most lettercrafters that "there are no set rules covering the art 

of lettering." The above sounds like a paradox in that funda- 
mentally all letters must be made on a well-defined set of principles 
to be accepted as correct by those who are supposed to be able to 
pass expert judgment. The given principles must be apparent in all 
reading characters, otherwise the work has little or no commercial 
or artistic value. 

In the manner of actual production of hand-lettered reading 
matter, the various degrees of artistic merit shown must then be 
governed by the technique of the individual. 

An analysis of form, governed by basic principles, is a simple 
matter, but an analysis of technique is almost impossible unless one 
is thoroughly familiar with all the mediums employed, meaning, 
just what brush or pen is used in each instance, the exact condition 
of the colors employed and the surface worked upon. Also to get 
a logical insight into the ways and means utilized in the production 
of a certain piece of work one should be in a position to observe 
the actual operation. 

Given all these opportunities one is more liable to derive the 
correct impression of how to proceed. In other words, the inspira- 
tion will have received a logical foundation upon which to build. 

In personal observation of actual efforts of many workmen, the 
greatest impression received has been the vast amount of mis- 
directed effort. This, to the observer, is an education in itself. By 
this is not meant looking at the finished production after it has 
left the hands of the operator, but by watching the work as it is 
being done and noting with what it is being done and the conditions 

under which it is being done, meanwhile making a mental note of 
all the difficulties encountered and figuring out all possible ways of 
eliminating these difficulties. 

Figuring conditions, we have noted that many of the best pro- 
ductions are made while the operator is in a rush. Therefore, we 
deduct that anything made under a given rate of speed is liable to 
be either cramped or laborious in appearance, or too stiff to be 
graceful. This does not apply to sign writing as much as to show 
card writing, for there are certain classes of sign work that do not 
admit of so much speed as the making of cards. However, falling 
below a certain speed limit is disastrous to the appearance of any 
lettering unless one is possessed of nerves of steel and unlimited 
muscular control, combined with extraordinary ocular ability. 

On several previous occasions particular attention has been 
called to the methods employed by professional penmen, or to those 
who have the ability to write gracefully. 

In these cases it may be noticed that the easy swing and action 
of the arm, hand and fingers are all governed by a semi-automatic 
movement of a combined set of muscles rather than by a definite 
act of drawing the characters, such as may be classed as draftsman- 
ship, or hand engraving. Arriving at the conclusions as to the merits 
of the different methods of the production of letters, one can't help 
being impressed by the easy grace with which a well-trained set of 
muscles performs any given set of movements, almost independent 
of the vision. The eye only sees. The muscles act, and if they are 
not trained to act rhythmically the most correct conception of 
form will be lost in the reproduction thereof. 

Did you ever notice with what absolute certainty the profes- 



sional acrobat, skater or swimmer performs his stunts? Can you 
imagine any one of these performances accomplished by being 
merely familiar with the figures, shapes, or diagrams of the various 
forms of action ? Dancing is called the poetry of motion. One might 
be thoroughly familiar with all the steps and figures involved in the 
action of any or all the dances, but without the necessary mus- 
cular training he would only succeed in making a monkey out of 

The above applies as a comparison to the efforts of many let- 
terers. Familiarity with the correct forms of letters is not limited 
to the formation thereof. That is only the starting point. The cor- 
rect and graceful formation of letters can only be acquired by train- 
ing the muscles of the arm, hand and fingers to act in automatic 
unison directed by the eye in a subconscious manner as directed by 
the brain. 

I have noted some workmen whose hands trembled as though 
afflicted with the palsy, pick up a brush and start a stroke and end 
it up with a precision that was wonderful to behold. There is only 
one answer to this phenomenon and that is, well-trained muscles 
which are under perfect control "while in action." If such a condition 
of nerves existed in an otherwise normal arm and an attempt made 
to draw a letter by sight, you can readily imagine the result. One 
could as reasonably expect a bicycle or top to stand upright without 

Therefore, the logical theory of graceful lettering involves not 
only a reasonably correct conception of form, but in formation by cor- 
rect motion or motive form of "the hand behind the brush." 

Repetition of certain acts becomes more natural and easy, after 
continued practice intelligently directed ; for example, make a dozen 
straight lines on a 45-degree slant, then make a dozen more, then 
make a dozen with your eyes shut. Try the same operation with 
any of the single elements of any letter. Keep on repeating this 
dose until confidence in your arm action improves. Make circles, 
perpendicular and horizontal straight lines, single letters, then 
words, with your eyes shut. They will not be pleasant to look at, 

but there is a wonderful stock of subconscious intelligence in your 
muscles if you take the trouble to develop it. 

The accompanying plate demonstrates the easiest way to learn 
how to preserve a uniform degree of slant. The legibility and 
artistic effort of all Italics depends largely on uniformity of slant. 

With a T square, draw light pencil guide lines on any desired 
degree of slant and make all your down strokes as nearly as pos- 
sible conform to this degree. 

Practice the elements of the letters as prescribed above, a dozen 
or two of each, with increasing speed every time. Then try them 
with the eyes closed. Train the arm to act automatically. Do not 
draw the letters, but make them with a free, swingy movement. 

I want to slip a prescription to some of you fellows whose arm 
feels groggy ; in other words, if you are drawing your lettering like 
you would draw the picture of a stone wall, go and take a short 
course in penmanship exercises from some good modern instructor 
and then try it out with a brush, using the same method of construc- 
tion as taught in penmanship. This will put a "kick" in your letter- 
ing that can be derived from no other source, and after you have 
acquired the freedom of arm action so necessary to the production 
of letters, you will find it easier to "knock 'em out" with a punch. 

For the present you will find a few exercises illustrated in 
Plate A, which was produced in less than five minutes, size 14 x 19. 

This is my favorite prescription for "brush arm" that works 
like a concrete mixer. It will cure most cases of muscle-bound let- 
tering and in all cases prove beneficial. 

It seems that every doctor has a favorite prescription for cer- 
tain ailments. Every teacher has likewise a favorite method of 
instruction. All trainers or coaches in athletic pursuits have definite 
rules and regulations that apply to the various stunts to be per- 
formed by the teams or individual members thereof. 

Naturally these treatments, teachings and training stunts have 
been pretty well tried out, tested and improved upon from time to 
time as suggested by the requirements of the subjects and the 
results shown by the effect of the same. 



Ontt ;b excellent lrus)i practice fir the 5how (Sarbtewiter. 


Prescribing for one's ailments without a correct diagnosis is 
usually taking chances on getting results. 

Instructing for the masses may be beneficial in a certain degree, 
but only a small percentage derive the full benefit owing to dif- 
ferences in mentality or physical make-ups. 

Training a baseball team as a team, may make a good team, but 
putting each individual member through the same physical exer- 
cises may result in disaster for some member who is deficient in 

These inferences may be applied to the art of lettercraft. The 
various contributors of articles instructive can go no further than 
present the subject to the readers as a class, trusting that a certain 

percentage will be benefited by following certain methods that have 
proven beneficial to others. 

The human being is one of the most wonderful pieces of me- 
chanism imaginable, and, while we are all put together on the same 
plan, no two are alike, either as regards mentality or physical capa- 
bility, consequently each individual has to work out his own salva- 
tion in which every line of endeavor is pursued. 

A natural mechanic may make an indifferent artist, even though 
his desires may be for that line of work. 

With the proper training and instruction he may become suffi- 
ciently proficient to pass as the average, but never rise above me- 
diocrity. Localities and associations have a weighty bearing on 
the class of work an individual may produce. There are various 
reasons for this. First, being the competitive spirit ; second, the 
constant contact of sight with certain objects or forms, which 
causes a mental imprint that is easier to reproduce than a vague 
impression. Seeing an act performed or an object constructed ren- 
ders a better and clearer idea of just how to proceed. Thus it will 
be noticed that in certain localities there will be certain lines of 
endeavor performed that are, as a class, far superior to similar lines 
in less favored localities. This is due to the imitative instinct of 
humanity. The same may be said of the lower forms of life. 

For example, take the habitant of any large city who comes in 
daily contact with any given line of work; his endeavors will 
progress more rapidly than if he were struggling single-handed in 
some locality where lack of inspiration hampers the best efforts 
ever attempted. Even though he be the "best in the business" in 
his home town the handicap is too heavy to overcome. 

Ambition is the greatest of all things. If it be strong enough, 
hampered ambition is worse than the drug habit ; it puts a kink in 
the mentality that results in the "rut," and the man or woman who 
is in a rut might better be doing time for the state. 



Individual Style Italics 

opqrs uvwxy2%$- 

^And a series of different style Capitals 


Plate m 



Speed Limit in Lettering Show Cards 

IN close observation of the work of many card writers, one can 
not fail to see that lost motion is the primary cause of slow 

work. In constructing a letter by the single stroke method every 
individual stroke of the brush or pen should count as a finished 
element of that letter. Every time a stroke requires re-tracing or 
patching up, 50 per cent, of time is lost. A haphazard burst of 
occasional speed, with the consequent result of doctoring up the 
mistakes in formation or altering the ill-appearance of the finished 
job, usually costs more time than the job is worth, and a patched-up 
job always looks the part. 

Regardless of what tool you are working with you must be 
reasonably sure of its limitation. By this is meant what manner 
or style of letter will any certain brush or pen make with the least 
amount of effort on the part of the workman. 

Any make, style or size brush will be found useful for making 
some particular style of lettering if you are familiar with that style. 
If not, right there is where you begin to lose time in construction. 

Any capable workman can pick up any old stump with whiskers 
'and in a few trial strokes will determine just what particular style 
letter can be most easily made with it, and in all probability will 
turn out something characteristic ; but it's a safe bet he will not 
attempt a style composed of elementary strokes that the brush will 
not produce naturally. 

Every individual brush has its own particular working limitation. 
It may produce a certain style of letter with automatic precision 
and be almost useless for making other styles having a different 
characteristic finish. It requires considerable study and experiment 
to determine what brush or pen is best adapted to the various styles 

of lettering, especially to choose a tool best calculated to save time 
on certain classes of work. Then, again, the amount of color carried 
in a brush often changes the style of the letter. If you start a line 
of lettering with a brush full of color, the brush must be kept full 
by frequent dipping or the lines will gradually thin out as the work 
progresses, resulting in a changed appearance of the line. 

If the line is started with a brush well chiseled out, it should 
be kept in the same condition throughout to maintain similarity. 

These details will become apparent after continued experiment 
because they are secondary as compared to the first principles of 
production, of which particular mention was made previously, 
namely, the automatic production power of the arm, hand and 
fingers, which can only be successfully attained by cultivating a 
freedom of movement through a series of drill exercises, such as 
has been so ably demonstrated and proven by our modern in- 
structors in penmanship. 

Something on this order is presented in Plate G. In this par- 
ticular instance, a 14 x 22 card is suitably ruled and a No. 12 Rigger 
brush is used, carefully chiseled out to widest proportion, in medium 
heavy color. 

The strokes produced by the brush held in the proper position 
are practically automatic and characteristic of the brush used. They 
can be made at a fairly good rate of speed, which should be gradu- 
ally increased. 

A few spare moments each day may be devoted to these exer- 
cises, and it will soon be noticed that a decided confidence is ac- 
quired in your ability to produce a clean-cut, rapid stroke. 

Plate H represents an Italic alphabet based on the same series 



Spot) movement 

mim-iuw mm 
urn s m sm 

G88SD 1231567890$$$ 


Watt A 

Spaced Italics 
abcdefgh ijklm n opp 
qrstuvwxyyz aaw 

mi dmwbvtitu/ A mkwdfm 




of elementary strokes showing both wide and condensed spacing. 

The finished product more often obtains its characteristics from 
the tools used than from the operator. There is a pen or brush par- 
ticularly adapted to the making of every known alphabet, in that 
the particular pen or brush produces the elements automatically 
if properly used in the right quality of color. 

Considerable has been mentioned in previous chapters regard- 







X^ v "" x 

hand cBrusk 




Plate MO 

ing Italics and slant letters. In this instance, attention is called 
to the difference between the so-called slant letters and true Italics. 

All Italics are based primarily on script, while slant letters may 
be compiled from any alphabet Roman, Gothic or the Text faces 
by simply making them on any degree of slant, preserved in unity 
throughout the copy. 

There is no exact rule regarding angle or slope. In extreme 

styles, 30 to 35 degrees from the vertical may be attempted, but 10 
to 20 degrees is a normal range. 

Slant or Italics are not as legible as vertical letters, but in cer- 
tain instances where emphasis is required they serve the purpose 
admirably, more perhaps by direct contrast than by actual legibility. 

The Italics being immediately derived from script or writing, 
adapt themselves to production with the lettering pens or the so- 



called single stroke brushes as used almost exclusively by show 
card and sign writers. 

Many commercial artists and letterers have yet to acquaint 
themselves with the labor and time-saving facilities of these par- 
ticular implements of the craft. 

Lettering, as taught by "Old School" methods and instructors, 

was, and still is for that matter, largely a matter of draftsmanship 
based on the accepted forms of the letters. The student is taught 
to draw the letters according to rule, much the same as drawing 
the front elevation of any inanimate object in two dimensions ; 
namely, height and width. 

First : "You have only to learn the forms and then draw them." 



Pabst Italic '% 



PLATE 142 

Having done this little thing, the student is left to his own devices 
regarding materials, modern tools of the successful present-day 
craftsman and methods of production and arrangement. Be it said 
here that unless a person is naturally adapted to this class of work, 
inventive in overcoming the difficulties presented in handling the 
materials prescribed, in the production of commercially acceptable 
lettering, that person has chosen one of the most unsatisfactory 
and unremunerative methods of turning his labor into coin of the 
realm that could be imagined, without taking a "shot in the 

Be not mistaken in the foregoing that the study of individual 
forms of letters is to be overlooked. This is primarily paramount. 

raost italic lower case 
aocaejg kijk/mn 
op qrstu vwxyz& 

J\otenign ascenders ana me low 
decenders in this style of letter. 

PLATE 143 

One must have a logical insight into what he is trying to accomplish. 
To this end the study of lettering in its various combinations and 
forms is of the utmost importance and should not be overlooked. 

In the production of letters and lettering, however, there has 
been a wide departure from the "Old School" teachings to the 
methods of the present day. 

Many concede that the methods of the modern show card and 
sign writer have done more to bring the standard of lettering up 
to its present state of excellence in general appearance, and, con- 
sidering the length of time consumed in the production thereof as 
compared with the old school methods, let us consider all argu- 
ments to the contrary eliminated, at least for the present. 








Jflixed Roman Text Italics 


pqrstu v ulxyz $ 

Plate 144: 



Quick Single-stroke Modification of 

Jctiscti Old Style Type 

stuvu wxyzs 


PLATE 145 







PLATE 146 






ab c de f ghikj mlnop 







PLATE lie. 







Plate l-9 



6emi- Decorative Single-stroke 




Plate 15O 



nopqr s tuvwxyz 

_ few quick 

e s vwxysz 



Plate 151 



Improvised Letter Fornration for body 
copy- paragraph or page arrauap- 
ment. Use hill round ovals,- condense 
he vertical elements-and a sli(gktly 
broken alignment adds to fhe unique 
appearancQ of tke entire production. 


Plate 152 




Capitals- Plate 



fine cloze 


to fit in snio 1 1 space 












Adapted to Single-stroke Brushwork 

* *\ r* *\ 1 - 


123 tuvwxyza456 





Fundamentals of Speed Work 

IF we still copied the earliest efforts of lettercrafters it would 
require the services of eleven men and several helpers to accom- 
plish in a week's work what one average show card writer turns 
out in a few hours. Put the same average present-day show card 
writer on the same class of work required of the old-timer and the 
situation would be reversed in the order above mentioned. 

The evolution of reading characters (letters) is mainly respon- 
sible for the record-breaking burst of speed in lettering of the 
present day. Whereas, our predecessors used carefully modeled 
upper case letters in most all their copy, we of today have, by 
necessity, devised certain alphabets that permit of greater speed 
in execution. The changes have occurred gradually, caused prin- 
cipally by necessity. 

The fundamental principles of letters have remained unchanged 
throughout all time of which we have record. Modernisms are 
simply the evolution of old-time forms devised with a view of ac- 
complishing the same or better results with less effort in less time. 
Where books were all lettered by hand, long before the art of 
printing was thought of, the scribes devised contractions of the 
Roman characters in order to speed up. This was the beginning of 
various styles of script, upon which our present systems of pen- 
manship are primarily based. 

Small letters are abbreviated contractions of capitals, and were 
only brought into general use after the art of printing was devised. 
The evolution of the various styles of small letters may be directly 
traced back to script, penmanship, the art of writing. All Italics are 
based on script ; all vertical small letters bear a close resemblance 
to vertical script, "roundhand." By eliminating the connecting 

lines and loops of the extended letters, which appear in round writ- 
ing, we have a very close resemblance to lower case Roman. In- 
dividual designers of new letters and alphabets have kept this basic 
principle intact, regardless of all the curlycues added as embellish- 

Today we are all sawing back and forth, devising reading char- 
acters from fixed principles ages old. Those who associate the prin- 
ciples with their work succeed more or less according to their in- 
dividual qualifications. Those who depart from the fixed principles 
contribute largely to the waste paper supply. 

Naturally, by eliminating as many useless lines as possible, we 
save time in the production, but if we strip an alphabet of all its 


a b 
jt cj A6i 

w v w ~&% 

SYalc 1 

embellishments, we are right back to the bare skeleton principles 
of upper and lower case Egyptian, Gothic or the Roman, minus 
serifs, either of which will not answer the present-day require- 
ments. The question of just how much chopping an alphabet will 




adopted Jjot bpudu 

&v U-\ . L 


Three different types of lettering based on rpund- 
-twitmcj, particiiladij adapted for Speediuork 

abcdef^hijklmnopqrstiunp Jijgz etc. 

eliminating bop ani connecting liney spacing more 
conteco anb regular- Che aMition of serifs or spurs luill 
demonstrate the evolution of many of our more modem 
conception* of artistic alphabets, which are ecfcilij an6 
raiaw ma6e bij those u>to iwork an6 practice on certain 
ruk> cjouerne6 bu funoamental principle^* 


rstuvw & ' 

tPfatc 3 

Originals of these plates, 22 inches wide, lettered with a No. 12 Red Sable Rigger. 

stand without losing its identity or its attractiveness is a problem. 
In very many cases this chopping out process, as a time-saving 
expedient, necessitates the substitution of some additional trim- 
mings, and unless these changes are accomplished on a time-saving 
basis without sacrificing the general appearance, your effort has 
been wasted ; furthermore, it must be understood that while certain 
additions may be made on some individual letters, the same treat- 
ment on the other members of the same family would be disastrous 
to the appearance of the entire alphabet. Herein lies the chief diffi- 
culty of the designer. 

There are some alphabets that respond readily to a change of 
appearance without losing their family resemblance. For instance, 
many beautiful styles of Italics may be derived from the principles 
of penmanship, the main point of observation being a uniform de- 
gree of slant. If this point is lost the entire production is thrown 
out of joint ; then there is the gradation of thickness of lines to be 
considered. The position of holding the brush or pen on the mark- 

ing surface is responsible for these effects. If the broad point of 
the pen or brush is held at right angles with the card, the heaviest 
part of the letter will naturally be midway of the height of the oval 
or circular elements. If the pen or brush be held with the broad 
point toward the upper left hand corner of the card, the heaviest 
line will be on rounding the curves on the lower left-hand and upper 
right-hand points of the oval or circle ; consequently, in making any 
alphabet, to preserve uniformity throughout, the brush or pen 
must be manipulated in exactly the same position on every single 
element and letter, otherwise you are not taking advantage of the 
potentialities of the tool with which you are working. This fact 
will be thoroughly demonstrated and illustrated in additional plates. 
In the present instance we take the old style German round- 
script, Plate 1, which in itself is a very beautiful style. It partakes 
its character from the implement with which it was originally 
made, namely, a broad, flat pen, probably fashioned from a reed 
or quill ; later, a steel pen, modeled somewhat similar, like the 



modern Soennecken or Hunt's No. 400, or others of a like character. 
The chisel-edge brush of the modern show card writer answers 
the same purpose on a larger scale, if desired. A close observation 
of the elements of this letter shows that in its production the broad 
point of the brush or pen points to the upper left-hand corner of 
the card, which is at right angles with the desk, or table. 

A stroke directly downward is slightly less than the width of 
the pen. In rounding curves it is broadest on upper right and lower 
left of the circle or oval. An up stroke to the right is naturally a 
thin line, automatically, if the brush is held correctly. Note Plate 
104, showing these positions. 

There are several alphabets which are easily and rapidly made, 
using the same principles applied to the round-hand. The connect- 
ing lines, which require wide spacing, are eliminated; loops are 
left out, as in lower section of Plate 2, and in Plate 3 are shown 
three simple alphabets devised from the round-hand principles. 

First is condensed, has rounded terminals, except on extended 
or loop letters ; these are left sharp without loops, which may be 
added if desired and time permits. 

Second, condensed spacing; angular spurs are added wherever 

Third, extended spacing and round effect letters, more like the 
original round-hand, slightly curved tops added, with just a sus- 
picion of a rounded spur on the base tips. This letter is very grace- 
ful when properly grouped and spaced in reading form. It also has 
the added value of being adapted to very rapid work. 

Observation shows where this letter may be converted into true 
lower case Roman with the addition of. the slight changes required. 

This will demonstrate how we are working back and forth, from 
one alphabet to another, without change of basic principle, by 
simply rearranging the elements in different combinations, and the 
addition or subtraction of exterior embellishments. 





Plate 158 



"Poster Styles" of Lettering for the Card Writer 

FOR want of a better name, the various characteristic styles of 
lettering in vogue with poster artists are usually dubbed "pos- 
ter style." As a matter of fact, every one of them, numbered 
by the dozens; is based on some particular standard alphabet of 
recognized commercial and artistic merit. 

They are original only so far as individual treatment and tech- 
nical twist or pleasing peculiarity is concerned. Anyone familiar 
with that style immediately recognizes and thereafter associates 
with the individual who produced it, called it the Joe Whosus or 
Solly Somone's alphabet and thereafter that's its name. Along 





Plate XL . 

comes someone else, puts another kick in it and its identity is again 

We are largely indebted to continental Europe for strikingly 
attractive styles of lettering, particularly to France and Germany. 
The German artists have a decided penchant for the bold, black-face 
types, based on Gothic styles, very loose and sketchy Adaptations, 
yet extremely strong and rugged in general appearance, with very 
few hairlines, consequently largely in demand for display adver- 
tising, particularly where strength and weight lend value to the 





Plate V. 



The French adaptations of letters are the direct antithesis of 
German modifications, delicate, graceful curves, hairline effects, and 
are, we believe, based on the Renaissance style, which succeeded 
the Gothic in the fifteenth century. Each style, however, is admir- 
ably adapted to certain classes of printed or hand-lettered publicity, 
either with or without appropriate illustrations pertaining to the 
subjects advertised. 

If it be related to delicate, flimsy or artistic articles, such as 
lingerie, millinery, jewelry and the like, a light face, graceful letter 
should be relatively selected. Whereas, if one were designing an 
ad or making a display card pertaining to power, transportation, 
steel or ironware, a good, strong, bold face, rugged letter should 
be used. 

Lettering, as well as illustrative matter, should always be in 
harmony with the subject. 

Plate X represents a popular adaptation of a black face poster 
letter, of which there are many different styles, black face being 
a term applied to any type of letter in which less background is 
visible than the space occupied by the letters. 

For a demonstration of constructive strokes used in making this 
letter, the strokes are laid on in outline formation and not filled in. 
This may give the reader an idea of how to proceed in building up 
letters of this character which have for a basic principle the 
elements of Gothic letters, broadened out. A slight variation of 
the correct form gives it an individual character and the condensed 
spacing intensifies the black face effect when filled in. 

Note Plates U and V. 

Plates Y and Z are illustrative of different style poster letters 
based on the Roman upper and lower case. If one attempts the 
construction of this particular style letter by the outline method, 
the result will be a failure, for the strokes which impart its chief 
characteristic will be lost. 

The original of each of these subjects is about 15 x 26. A No. 15 
brush was used throughout, being well loaded with heavy color and 
held nearly vertical (straight up), and in the formation of each let- 

The difficulty of desiqninq 1 
L a nem stijfe of lettering 
does not prevent the axribv 
tious, intelligent desiqner** 
from obtaining modifications 
of existinq stipes that are ** 
suff icientlu different to virtu 
constitute a new 


uuur xtgz 


a lieauu-iace letter 
desiqneo to meet a. 
requirement of bold 
display in -small space 

Plaie w. 

ter the color is allowed to flood on pretty heavy, thereby prac- 
tically moulding the elements as the strokes proceed. There are no 
hairlines in these types. A mislick will not injure the general ap- 
pearance. Even a deviation from alignment is permissible, provid- 
ing the general alignment is held straight. 






You will particularly note that the spurs or -serifs on these let- 
ters are not intended to be straight on the base or top lines. They 
are blunt and of a compound curve formation which, with a little 
intelligent study and persistent practice, may soon be executed in 
an automatic manner with greater rapidity than if carefully drawn 
out and the color smoothed over and spread evenly. 

This is essentially a knock-out speed letter. You will find that 
by spending a little more time on sketching an attractive layout 
with a piece of charcoal or pencil, and a little less time on the 
laborious drafting of each letter, that the general speed average of 
a day's work will amount to considerably more than antici- 



1 < Axmsti 

i abed i as 

r s tuv- 8tX swxy 

^ ig tn<? foiwation of *f; 

^4| If M VI letters without/ f l^.fi 
I V^JKVJL^JL ^ I extra retoucSin^ i ^^ \-^V/ 











abode J_ 

rstusi vwxyz 

t TJL ^s w" x. z ^ 


opqrstuvwxyz &s- 

Plate IS 



ab c d e f g"h ij kl mn 

PLATE 161 



Plate 16O 

Evety Iti&viclual Brushy 

tas its own peculiar xrocfootf limit- 






PLATE 162 






PLATE 163. 



ALPHABETS IM: sT^'Speedball" 

The quick brown fox jumped over the la^y dog's. -* 

Pack inn box with five dozen liquor ju^s 42* 
John prhly extemporized five toiu bags s - ( \ e 

tame ^3 pen turned over on iti back- Rig'hf 

pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs.* 

Jnd mile -a-minute marking- bold face Italics $265.- 

Outline LETTE1S all styles 

Modern STAHDARD QIitigjie-Freak; r 
/^MTiaCIE- c5howCard6t^tc ^oman^ 

01iTCnglisi) and many others 123^567890. 

men and young men who 
like a Spirited JndiiMwty in your 
clothing Tvdll find your -wants 
-\flell expressed h these garments. 
^JKor^s a dMnctmlianMty <S clever 
designing and good taste that 
appeals to men 

Plate 161 

is not Qie basic principle of art 

in hand-craft lettering, 

--- if critic ism consisted of indi- 
vidual letter analysis according, 
to type. or the standard alpha- 
bets, Hand Let tercraft would 
cease to exist as an applied art. 
Its individuality, would be. 
lost -thereby its real value, both 
from an artistic and commercial 
viewpoint, tyowew- fhi> does- 
not intply,;tKot baric principle 
should be rf-ocrificed for ^frfc" 
or D rainstorm individuality. 

Safety Firit- 
be Keutreil '. 



Brush Stroke 


Plate 165 



^Practical alphabets derived from the 

Old English 

Combine^ with, tfie more legible elements of the Roman 


a semi decorative letter that admits rapidity of execution 
with either ehisel-c&je brush, or flat lettering pens 

Plate 160 



Capitals lit 


s fermrir frmn 

mcntary Principles. 

mi j \\\\\ : to " s it r s M o Jj ^ ut 

im djaractcristic 

Plate .169 



OrUCf characteristic of tkts letter is imposed by the manner 
of Rotaing and manipulating a flat chiseled brush or flat lettering 
pen- as illustrated in plates ft~ s IO4- Position 2. 


the above is lettered throughout without changing position of holding the 
pcti, which accounts for the angular serifs hoth on top and base of letters .^ 

it ts impossible to impart unijormit)> to Capitals derived from mixed sources 

Plate 17O 



Plain-Rapid Romitalic Letters 

Particularly adapted for fast legible Show Card Anting 
in either Vertical Roman or Roman italic Lettering 


|ft : : tUVWXyZ 


b> c ci.e 

m n o p 

mnopciduTOp in condensed foil 



QobMs (tikis nature are suitable for initials only. 
or tic first letter of a sentence or paragraph^. 
7ticy are not leqim in continuous matter* 

'~ J Plate IIQ 



Romitalic Series Ten Letters 




Single or double stroke Consfmctiotv 

^^^^ i * * ^ -^ ^*- *> 





.0,1 ? V 


pqrs stuVv vJx 

Romitalie Pen Letters 



Plate Yl^ 



abcdefghi j kl mnopqrstuvwxy z &,&nva-Ki 




PLATE 175 



a-bcdefghijkl mnopqrstuvwxyz&gy 



a b c defy h ijk Imnopqrs tu vwxyz vivxy. 


dbcdefgtuj feltnnopqivtuvwxyz 2nd GO. 

abccLefgltii hlrrxm ivopqnrs 

PLATE 176 



New Alphabets Versus Old 

NEW alphabets are simply old ones reclothed. Take, for ex- 
ample, the Roman letter. For two thousand years it has been 
selected and preferred by the wisest readers and letterers. It 
has been used as a base by so-called designers to build upon, tear 
apart, reconstruct and devise new trimmings, fancied improve- 
ments, rechristened with many high-sounding trade names. 

The great DeVinne says : "No single designer nor the aggregate 
influence of all the generations have been able to alter the form, 
add to the legibility or improve the proportions of any single letter 
of the Roman alphabet." (Designers, commercial artists, show card, 
and sign writers, please take notice.) 

We can and do adopt certain modifications, sometimes purely 
as a matter of simplifying the construction and shortening the time 
of production with certain tools at our command, but so far as 
designing a new letter is concerned, it can not be done. 

Design implies invention, and no one can invent that which 
already exists. Letters do exist as the accepted medium of intel- 
lectual exchange So that by designing (?) a new alphabet we 
simply burlesque the original. One might as well attempt to invent 

a new language as to design or invent a new alphabet in the true 
sense of the word. 

However, we are permitted to go as far as we like, providing 
we can collect for our efforts in this direction. If we devise some 
new alphabet that appeals to the taste of the publicity experts, and 
can produce it at a rate of speed consistent with the remuneration 
thereof, it naturally follows the recompense will repay the effort. 

Take any ordinary light or heavy face Roman letter and trim it 
all the way through with different serifs (commonly called spurs), 
and you have another alphabet, providing the same characteristic 
serif is observed in proper relation and position on each and every 
letter throughout the entire alphabet. 

Plate 2 shows a Roman letter with compound curve spurs, made 
with one of Hunt's new No. 400 lettering pens, which is considered 
a great little tool for the card writer. 

Plate 177 is identically the same proposition so far as formation 
is concerned, only it belongs to the "bold display type," of almost 
uniform line thickness throughout, and can be best and most easily 
and rapidly made with a Style B Speedball pen. 



' p J* 

l 1 One of the fine lines of a 

one of the fine ci"oss /ines at the 
top or bottom. A.S of I. ""Websler. 






- ty %e Score #/x 

Plate No. 1. 

Roni3.ll* Constructed- Finished 

; with compound-curve serifs 

stuuvwxyz Cbinpany. 

"[lie vertical elements may be started with 
curved serif in place of compound curves if 





Plate No. 2. 

built for <$xceeding the Speed limit 

abcdefghjj klmnopqrst 
uvwxjjz -'Watch your step" 


6k/ the Colics- abedcfghi/hhnnopqistuvuttj/ 



Roman-Bold Display Style 

compound curve serifs- 


ab c def ghijkl 

mnop qr sutvwxy 


may be witK eitKer single 
or double do-v^n stroke of the pen 

PLATE 177 *- 



Ibr a Quick Knockout 



& ., . .r-TO 



A Comparison of Display Values 

abcdef abcdef 

ghijklm ghijklm 

nopqrs nopqrs 

luvwxy tuvwxy 

Another comparison of display values 

i 2. 

abcdef g abcdefg- 
hijklmn hijklnm 
opqrstu opqrstu 
vwxyz&> vwxyz &> 

The same alphabet shown in two styles J\f? 
Bold- lace display- K?Q H-air-line finish serifs 

Plate 179 

Pla-te 180 



or variations ^letter-staler ofbr\e 

lettojr H like 

Plate 181 



He is the test workman, who produces 
that which is test suited to its purpose 
with the least expenditure of time, money 
and physical effort. The kind of work 
thai arouses the best sentiment in those 
who behold it. * ** This block of letters 
illustrative of alphabet shown in Plate 1S8 

Plate 182, 



9ittpravi?ed alternates ar\^. variations cotijiryed 

abcdef^ujMmnopqwtuvawbxyz- coi\dei\ged mass 


re?Qiviria d 



' /* j 

unction of advertising^ 

. *~^ , *-^ ^ /c> c ^ 

1S to introduce what you, nave to sett 

to fase vmo can use it fp aavanfae 
m suBt a Way maf they will fall 




Poster Letter s 


opqrstiivwioj'z si 
alternate farms for 

nvuxxyz, a semi-script 

Swask line italics with a (Romitalic (Pen 



he prompt adoption by the printers 
of the inventions of the designer has al- 
ready assimilated nearly every possible 
style of letter that human ingenuity can 
demise and he who attempts to produce 
anything really new and characteristic finds 
himself very shortly face to face with the 
tilings that have been done before with, no 
opening except a very eccentric one " v 

A I%ed. Bold. Display Letter 
Extremel Characteristic and 



O-P-Q-R-S-TU'V- W-X-Y-Z- 

The possibility of condensed spacinf 

ni t ioc? 

Plate 188 





Detachable Winter Top 

Gives Sedan Luxury 
at Touring* Cacr Price 


The top is put on in a few 
minutes, making the car 
an enclosed type of sedan 
effect for cold. stormy days. 

Plate 1QO 



The Show Card and the Show Card Man 

AS a trade, profession or occupation, show card writing has prac- 
tically three different fields to cover, and each one is widely 
separated from the other, not only in the class of work one 
is called upon to do, but how it is done. 

First, the average department store show card writer is essen- 
tially a "quantity first" proposition. The vast amount of work he is 
called upon to do in a limited time does not permit of much display 
of "class" either in lettering or decorative effect. His main object 
in life seems to be a feverish anxiety to keep his "rush order" file 
empty. If he ever has a few moments to spare during working 
hours he generally rests up a little by putting forth an extra effort 
to put a "kick" in the window cards, something that will make the 
"old man" sit up and take notice, or the "other fellow" feel the 
pangs of professional envy. If he can pull a mysterious stunt that 
will keep the other fellow guessing for a minute, that's his recrea- 
tion and a part of the game. 

Short Cuts That Increase the Bank Roll 

He welcomes with open arms any little thing that will enable 
him to shorten his labor, thereby giving him more time to do better 
work. Every thirty seconds saved on a quarter card means that 
much longer to live, thereby being able to do more work in less 
time. That's his only hope of ever being able to increase his income. 

He is never at a loss for something to do, even if his file is tem- 
porarily empty. There is always a sale or special occasion event 
staring him in the face. While he is waiting for that there is a door 
or trunk to letter, some delayed or sidetracked inside permanent 
signs to finish which some department manager has been crying 
about for a week. 

""Then when the bell rings for quitting time and -everyone else 
(but the window trimmer and himself) can go home, he is ready to 
finish up a bunch of window tickets and get his sale table cards out 
for the morning rush. That is, unless he would rather come back 
after supper and finish up "temporarily." Tomorrow he will be 
stuck again. 

Any time a department store show card man is idle he is out of 
a job. The writer had fifteen years of it, off and on, and knows 
whereof he speaks. 

The "Combination" Man 

The window trimmer who writes his own cards has a rather hit- 
or-miss proposition on his hands. His shop is usually tucked away 
in some corner that could not possibly be used for anything else. 
The time he utilizes for making his cards is generally sandwiched in 
between breathing spaces. Any old time will do, just so he gets 
them done. 

Under such circumstances one can not expect him to waste any 
time on art-for-art's-sake production, and yet the work some of 
these boys turn out on short notice will make many a department 
store or shop man take off his hat and also wonder how he can do 
it, considering the amount of other work he has to do. 

However, the remuneration for a combination trimmer and card 
writer is usually twice or three times that of the department store 
man, which, in the main, repays one for the extra effort and uncer- 
tain hours. 

The Shop Man's Liberties 

The shop man, as a rule, can derive a little more satisfaction and 
amusement out of his daily labors from the fact that he can occa- 



sionally give his imagination a little more play. He is not tied 
down to any one certain style or class of work, or the sameness 
which usually characterizes the department store style. 

In the majority of cases he is allowed to use his own judgment 
in filling his orders, such as color schemes, layouts, alphabets, deco- 
rative stunts, etc., and thereby can use his imagination or exercise 
his versatility without much fear of comment, and his productions 
sometimes become a pleasurable source of recreation, depending in 
a measure upon the price he can get. If it brings his shop any ad- 
vertising through the merit of the work he is doubly repaid. 

However, he can not afford to do his best and also make the 
price concessions necessary to successful competition these days. 
With all other branches of commercial art, show card writing has 
been brought down to the last degree of perfection by modern 
methods and also reduced in cost to the smallest margin of profit 
consistent with the wage scale in operation among first-class work- 
men. So now, the eternal question that confronts the worker is, 
"Not how good, but how quick can I do it good enough for the 
amount I am paid?" 

Once upon a time, if a workman finished a couple of full sheets 
and a half dozen small cards, his day's income amounted to five or 
six dollars. Both customer and himself were satisfied as far as 
value received was concerned. It he were to get the same price 
per card these days he could turn out forty dollars' worth of work 
every eight working hours. The work is still here, the hours are 
still sixty minutes long, but the price is oh, well, that's different ! 
The question is, How fast can you turn out the work? 

To be sure, we have better brushes, better colors, better pens 
and better cardboard; the air brush and many other labor-saving 
devices, such as the old-timer never dreamed of. 

Show Card a Sales Medium 

The humble show card is given a place in the mercantile world 
second to none as a direct sales medium. The price, quality and 
quantity are brought directly before the individual, in many cases 

actually on the article offered for sale. How much further could 
any medium go ? A verbal demonstration does not carry the sales 
message so well. That admits of an argument, and one can not 
argue with a show card. 

If its general appearance is pleasing to the eye and the price is 
within the reach of the purchaser, it immediately conveys a mental 
resolution to choose that article if a purchase is intended. 

The reverse impression is created if poorly executed, cheap- 
looking cards are used. One would hardly credit the veracity of 
any concern that would label a fifty dollar overcoat with the top of 
a collar box marked in blue pencil or marking brush, or use other 
equally unbusiness-like salesmanship. 

Cheap looking, poorly executed cards convey just the same idea 
they represent. They make a fifty dollar article look like $4.98. 

It is not my purpose to give a dissertation on the value of a 
card, but to enlarge on the possibilities of producing good appear- 
ing cards in the shortest possible time. . 

With the advent of modern lettering pens and the rigger, or 
so-called one stroke brush, the show card has moved into a class 
by itself. It was no longer a "card sign" it became a display card, 
cheaper in cost on account of the increased rapidity with which it 
could be made. 

Speed is Essential 

In turn, it created a new trade or profession, and today it fur- 
nishes employment for thousands of well-paid men and women 
according to their individual qualifications, the first essential being 

About the first question a man is asked when he presents his 
samples is, "How about your speed?" 

A beautiful bunch of samples may get you a position, but you 
won't hold it long on that qualification alone. 

Art is one beautiful thing to behold, but commercial art is all 
that its name implies. Commerce is moving so fast nowadays that 
it requires top speed to even stay in the race and be an "also ran." 



A Handsoma.high- 
grade, beautifully 
finished- luxuriously 
easy-riding" enclosed 
coach. The Sedan body 
is easily removed 
giving you an opetv 
touring car including 
summer top for warm 
weather touring. , 





1 Krjklmn 






We can't all be topnotchers, but it would be well to remember 
there will always be a market for mediocre work. Therefore, the 
workman who finds himself handicapped by nature, environment, 
or lack of proper training, should remember that the premium on 
"speed" is often in excess of "quality." If you can't get $6.00 for 
a piece of work that requires superior skill, train yourself down 
to running weight and do two jobs at $3.00 in the same length of 
time. The bank roll will show the "big six" just the same. 

While you are not busy, study, think, practice. This business 
is an art, and before entering the field you may as well understand 
that there is no cash value in art to one who has no native skill or 
no strength of character to put forth indefatigable effort to perfect 
that skill. Art is a rocky road to travel, and he who is minus on 
talent had better keep out of it. The employers are constantly be- 
sieged by applicants who have neither the ability nor the speed. 

You have got to deliver something either quality or quantity. 

There is no royal road to financial success in this business. 
Study yourself; determine your potential abilities. It is the "eye- 
minded" who make the best workmen in any branch of the applied 
arts, those who have a strong sense of form and a talent for work 
with their hands, and who learn better from what they see than 
from what they read or hear. 

If you happen to be "ear-minded" and learn better from what 
you read or hear, the chances are favorable that your best efforts 
will be rather disappointing in this field. There is many a good 
salesman, lawyer or literary genius making as high as $12.00 per 
week as a show card writer, merely as a matter of preference of 
employment. To him nothing can be said that carries any weight, 
but we may be able to tell him what not to do, which may ulti- 
mately be of benefit to the other fellow as well as himself. 

The Air Brush 

The air brush has done a great deal to further the interest of 
the show card man. The tendency, however, is to overdo and to 
cover up deficiencies in lettering, layout, etc. The choice of colors 
should be carefully studied, and let harmony rather than sharp con- 
trast be the rule. 

Shaded letters, if they be large enough, are good, but back- 
ground stunts are faster, more effective and admit of many more 
changes in appearance and design. 

Sometimes I use a frame slightly larger than the card, drive 
brads in both outside ends about one-eighth inch apart, then string 
it with waxed linen thread or thin rubber bands, which forms a 
screen. Lay this on the card so that the threads fit tightly along the 
surface, shoot the air on in the same direction the strings lie, and 

it gives a beautiful striped effect which is now so popular. Further 
effects can be obtained by laying different shaped cut-outs or mats 
on top of the screen. 

Color variation can be obtained by shooting from top to bottom 
of card after screen has been removed. 

"Spatter work" backgrounds can be obtained by shooting the 
air through fine wire screening held at about three to four inches 
from the nozzle of the brush. 

You can also get very pretty tones on ripple surface boards by 
shooting the air, not directly at, but across the surface, having pre- 
viously decorated the surface with some snappy design or scroll in 
a thin wash of color, which gives a different tone after the air has 
been applied. 



from the present- 
day printers and 
letterers art wo 
have amedlyof 
type faees and 
alphabets that 

simply defies 
classification or 

is more 

1 * *^ j 
to design ajood 

jmge of lettering 
'than to ml me same 
r>aq& Ttfitn a qood 

'%?.* H^. v i 

pic^urc^jkis makes 
flic 3eswwr6l)rol)ierf[ 
6till more difficult, 
alfkougk notfwbeless 



rn Act are not- 
familiar witlia cemht 
style lOill not use it 
Hence fte lad? oP 

bool^stf les 
doubt fi% met Ae 
reqttireraeiits" oftlie * 
l/^CCttiiry, bat diuce 
4at ttnie ener<gyand 
endeavor to expess 
taigjits and ideas 
in letters 'have tifcn 
otlier ulder Aiinds. 





Show Card 


a similar 




a u t if ally 

is an aceowiplishtwnt 


Hie atilj.ty to dmr 
plaia, simple letters 



iri it self 

but of little use 

'without the skill 

to compose them 







popular authors 


Guaranteed QOKear Cases'. 




Ike quick Erowa fox 
Umped over tke 




Second FToor 






Opens Mav 

Every thiag for 
the Sportsmatv> 

Tufts- Lyon Arms @o. 

The Relation 
of Quality 
and Price 

is wltat constitutes 
either Economy 
or Extravagance 

Bums Shoe Co. 

Li o s Angeles, C a 1. 




in. the 

Fall Fashion Short 


*> *"^ I ,_- ^fc _- V- -%.. V**V ^ ^^V 

stylos that will 
lead fashion in its 
showind of tK.e 
new fau fttrs an- 
domonstratitx^ ii 
fttf styles -^ al T 
tliat is new*. Fe 1 ? 
Women Will mis 
study or 
the Very exce|'tioii< 
pieces We are no^ 




^Miich these 

the Better 





a Dokrmann Co. 








* 1 






Jo lusher in the 

Oift^Buymq Season 
7 J 


In cooperation, with other leading 
Jewdry Stores of San^rancisco~, 
^Oill hold oben house to the public 

Monday }{ovember 26* 

"from 1' until 5'w du Jtftenwmi.. 

"jf{s has always been our custom it is 
our desire that no merchandise be 
sold during opening hours in this 
establishment on this occasion/. 

Q\n Unique Series 

of alphabets based on. the principles 
of Roman Letters, The salient feature 
being compound curve serifs which 
can oe made with, greater ease and 
rapidity than s traight- line spur finish. 

flote the difference in finish between Roman fitlfnique 
Roman Letters Unique Series 

mrsun mrsun 


Unique Series.K 9 ! 

op qr s tuv wxy 




ou are trying so hard to accomplish, a 
certain thine? tLatj^ou thwartjytour own 
purpose N, When^you put too much 
thought and effort to the determination 
j^ou have to master the thine* in hand 
jtour train is Working on the enforcement 
of vour mental decision \, not on the 
subject to Jbe mastered, ^bu tighten- 
up;j/-our muscles are not responsive ; lbu 
work, under too dreat e strain, oVer-araious 


to accomplish by lorce of mental energy 
that Which the untrained muscles refuse 
to perform or the eye to \feuaUy comprehend. 



Illustrative Stunts for Show Cards 

WE are continually confronted with the question of illus- 
trated or decorative matter for the show card. Nine out of 
ten show card writers are "stuck" when called upon to fur- 
nish illustrated matter, and nine times out of ten the reason for 
being "stuck" is not, as supposed, the inability to draw, but the 
attempt to overdraw and the departure from simplicity. 

The choice of a subject is usually one that would be a sticker 
for an accomplished artist or portrait painter. 

Many art students and others who are capable of producing 
very creditable "sketches," imagine that they would be valuable 
in a card shop. As a matter of fact, the shops are continually be- 
sieged by embryonic artists (?), who, while sometimes are able to 
produce very creditable pictures, are worse than useless in shop 
work for the very simple reason that the average sketch or picture 
has no commercial value when applied to the show card or sign 

First, because they require too much time in the production for 
the amount usually pa\d for this work. 

Second, art and commercial art are two different things. 

Pictures and posters are even more widely separated. 

The man who can fake up a little decorative stunt in snappy 
colors and do it quickly, in flat poster style, can always find plenty 
to do in card shops. It doesn't make a particle of difference how he 
gets it done, so long as it is effective. The boss doesn't care 
whether you are a student of Rembrandt or a scrap book pirate 
with a pantograph and a roll of tracing paper up your sleeve, so 
long as he can deliver on time and collect for your efforts. A card 
or sign shop has no time for the discussion of handling, technique, 

linear or circular perspective, atmosphere, etc., etc., all based on 
the hearsay gabfest usually peddled back and forth between those 
who infest the art centers, or the ragged edges thereof, which is 
ofttimes referred to as that "dear Bohemia." Mostly "Bushwa" by 
those who know. 

The man who can take a pot each of black, white, red, yellow 
and blue, and lay them over a sketch in flats and with never a blend 
depict the tones in lights and shadows, can get more money for his 
work these days than a dozen artists who will struggle for detail 
blends, tones, hues and atmospherical effects that are lost to nine 
out of ten observers. 

A poster is a picture, but a picture is not a poster. 

For a simple example by way of illustration, take for the motif 
a pot of roses, one of the hardest floral subjects to paint when 
handled in natural blends of colors. Make a simple outline sketch 
or tracing of the subject, and instead of reproducing it as it natur- 
ally looks, block each section of the flower in solid masses, sepa- 
rated by thin lines of the background or outlined with a black line 
or any other harmonious color. Thus, we get the poster rose. A 
black mass of shadow behind the subject produced intensifies the 
effect. This may or may not be art, as the word is defined, but it 
is not bad to look at from a decorative viewpoint, and it may be 
done very quickly which is the most desirable acccomplishment 
from a commercial standpoint. 

There are very few subjects that cannot be treated in practically 
the same manner. We see wonderful resemblances to the originals 
even in portraiture handled in poster style. That branch, however, 
requires considerable talent, or patient practice. 



Animals, birds, trees, flowers, landscapes, mechanical devices, 
buildings, human figures, etc., done in poster style, have a greater 
commercial value than finished pictures when applied to the art of 

illustrated publicity, such as furnishes a market for the produc- 
tions of the show card and sign fraternity and many branches of 
the commercial art worker's field. 

L r 2 


Motion Picture Titles and Their Preparation 

A NOTICEABLE feature of the moving picture theatres that 
run productions by the leading film companies is the artistic 
titles and sub-titles used. Not only are the background de- 
signs works of art, but the lettering is of a style and character 
that commands admiration no matter whether the spectator is in- 
terested in lettering or not. 

The "old-time" announcement lantern slide as projected on a 
screen was, as a class, the most abominable .grade of work that 
could be imagined ; in fact, many of the present-day announcement 
slides as shown in our most modern moving picture palaces are of 
a make-shift nature, poorly lettered, patched-up cutouts, badly ar- 
ranged and colored with shrieking reds, yellows and greens, which 
appeal only to the most primitive tastes. 

The live director of a modern film company realizes that a dis- 
cerning public appreciates the value of artistic titles as well as good 
pictures, and today every company of any prominence has its own 
title department under the direct management of a capable artist, 
who thoroughly understands the preparation of tone values in draw- 
ings for successful moving photography, as these titles are not 
shot "still." They are filmed by the foot depending on the length 
of the title or reading matter. 

Small film companies or specialty feature concerns do not oper- 
ate individual art or title departments. They find it cheaper to con- 
tract the work with some of the local card shops, of which there 
are several in Los Angeles that have competent letterers and fa- 
cilities for turning out this class of work in a thoroughly satisfac- 
tory manner. 

Appropriate subjects for title backgrounds are selected by the 

artist from the features of the picture, depending on where the 
title cuts into the film. These may be either selected from the 
"stills" or sketched on the location of the scene taken, and finished 
up in proper tones at the studio. A section is either cut out for a 
black background insert of the white lettered title matter or 
darkened to furnish sufficient contrast to show the white lettering 
to be clean cut and sharp. In some cases where art backgrounds are 
used which are of a tone that does not admit of white lettering 
directly on the subject, the title matter is lettered on a separate 
black card of the same dimensions, and, by a double exposure sys- 
tem, the lettering shows white, clear and distinct, even over very 
light grey half-tone backgrounds. Also the fade-away titles, or 
those which gradually appear and disappear while the actual scenes 
of the story are being projected on the screen, are prepared by a 
system of double exposures. The art backgrounds are either made 
in black and white half-tone effect with water colors or in pastel, or 
black and white chalk blended into delicate grey tones, the latter 
showing most effectively because of the extreme hazy velvetone 
which is very difficult, if not impossible, to produce in water colors. 
The lettering itself must be absolutely opaque, otherwise when 
projected on the screen it will present a streaky or mottled appear- 
ance, uneven in tone, merging into grey, if transparent. Semi-bold 
face letters of Roman character are used mostly. 

Eccentrics are permissible if artistic in general arrangement ; 
regulation Roman letters, which contain pronounced accent, and 
hair lines are seldom used principally from the fact that the hair 
lines lose out in comparison in photography and still further lose in 
the projection on the screen, rendering the production illegible. 




I -> T-v - 



^-^ M orvotorve Letters 

t u v w v xy z a 

Suggestions for Arrangement 

Close observation of some of the titles used by certain film com- 
panies whose letter artists effect the style Roman with sharp spurs 
and hair lines will show whiter spots at the junction of the spurs 
and also where the lines join together, while the fine lines and ex- 
treme tips of the spurs are a greyish tone. 

This is caused by the overlay of white in joining the spurs and 
junctions of hair lines with the heavier elements, the overlay of 
color, of course, being more opaque than the single strokes of the 
hair lines. This may not be apparent to the eye in the original, but 
the camera discovers and discloses details that the sharpest vision 
overlooks. A zinc etching of a drawing of this description may 
come out pure white and black in the printing, but a film is trans- 
parent, and, unless the white is opaque (solid), it will come out in 
half-tone grey when projected on the screen. Consequently, the 
most successful title letterers effect a style minus fine hair lines 
and sharp terminals which are termed "Monotone letters" either in 

regulation forms or eccentric. It is a well-known fact that unless 
a workman is exceptionally efficient it is hard to retrace a hair line 
stroke to make it opaque. It is also somewhat of a stunt to make a 
clean cut hair line with a brush. The paint must be exactly right, the 
brush exceptionally good. The working surface cuts considerable 
figure in the operation and the operator's nerve must not border on 
a condition of "the morning after." 

Aside from the letter styles the most important feature of title 
work is the general arrangement, or layout. The spacing usually 
requires careful consideration in order to completely utilize the 
space allotment and only in extreme cases is it permissible to split 
a word at the end of a line. 

A system of press work, printing in white on black cardboard is 
sometimes used in the preparation of a cheaper grade of picture 
titles, which, of course, can not be compared with hand lettering 
for artistic effectiveness. An attempt has been made to cast a series 
of type faces from some of the eccentric styles effected by letter 
artists. Unless numberless styles of each and every letter are cast, 
to fit the innumerable combinations effected by the hand letterer in 
his impromptu style of spacing and arrangement, the attempt will 
be a failure, for all type faces run by measurement, while hand 
lettering, of the better grades, is simply a matter of individual 
artistic spacing and arrangement, regardless of given measure- 
ments, except as to area or space dimensions allowed for a specified 
amount of copy. 

After a picture has been filmed and developed, it is taken to the 
projecting or try-out room and projected on a screen. The director 
determines where the titles should appear. The film is cut and the 
specified number of feet of title film, either subsequently prepared 
or immediately arranged for, is joined in the cut. Frequently 
changes are found necessary in the titles. This means rush work 
for the art department at all hours, night or day, as the release 
dates are probably advertised weeks in advance. 

Los Angeles is the moving picture center of the world. All the 



big companies have studios in and around here ; many of them are 
practically cities in themselves. Some are at the seashore, others in 
the hills and valleys. The remarkable climatic conditions afford 
good operating light at all seasons of the year. 

And as for scenic effects, it may be said that within an hour's 
ride from the city by trolley or auto in any different direction is a 
diversified range of natural locations covering everything desired 
from Alaskan snow-clad mountains dog teams and all the trim- 
mings, to placid lakes, roaring mountain streams, cactus and sage- 
covered deserts, tropical islands, rock-bound coasts, sand dunes of 
Sahara, pine-clad hills, cattle ranches, orange groves, oil fields, 
Chinatowns, Japanese fishing villages, ocean-going steamers, 
battleships, submarines, army encampments, forts, coast defenses, 
shipbuilding, Indians, Mexicans, old missions and old country vil- 
lages (erected over night) in appropriate scenic locations. 

It is small wonder, therefore, that such a locality should be the 

chosen workshop of our most popular form of amusement "the 
movies." Every day we see murders, highway robberies, bank bur- 
glaries, wild chases through crowded thoroughfares, up alleys and 
over housetops, wife beaters, kidnapers, comic cops and comedians. 
People get accustomed to seeing a wild-eyed female with a hand- 
bag in one hand and a six-shooter in the other chasing a half-stewed 
husband through the thickest traffic at the busiest hour of the day. 
It's only the "movie crowd" pulling a stunt that will get ten million 
laughs between the time it is released in New York and when shown 
here in some local show shop maybe months later. For be it known, 
that while most of the big productions are filmed in and around 
Los Angeles, they are all released through New York, so by the 
time the films get back to their own home town they are old-timers, 
but none the less eagerly looked forward to by those who have 
been chance spectators, and perhaps included in the scene by the 
same reason. 




cccntric Letterin 


^His object W<as, 
I think to find 
<a short route 
\o Eest Indies 

<at cdef 
s t u v\? 

Columbus liadL 
no AA?hiskGrs- : but / 
the Wind Was 
very Wind)? 










m an o 

v wx 

ss tu 




N T 



5 A S ED OR 




AnArtcraft Picture 
Laskjy Corporation 

Cecil RDeMilh (jemral Director.^ 



THOS. H.INCE <Preseicts 






r< XMAS 





k devising contracted 
forms- or modifications 
pf ^standard alphabets 
tor 6peed-work- aim to 
make ewry stroke of 
the brush, count 05 a 
finished part of cack 
letter- 5? ,50 doina- a 

actioii'vpill Gfaduallv be 
acquired wick evciitu- 
alh? develops indi^id 
uali^? ia hand Icrtcrin^ 
we ^amc as in tlie awns? 
hand writincx Qrtistic 
rcndcring'.'being a nuttier 
of 3a' 



Hue: (7} 





o A L i P cm N i 


-KoW about j^our 







.Lit Qirbrusked Dackqrotwia 


abed fc. li i j VI in no pq V9 tuvwx^z 








a Spring 




Thursday am> friday September < $0'%1 

ashion Show ^D ays 

Cabins and Jlddt)tatu>HS 
tram. "Januus Td>-LS~DesiqHrs. 

ratn<] e egnniHg o our 
second year as leaden of 'Jaskicn 












Knockout Speed 


incrz WYT^ 

abcdalgliijldmn ofcqr 

A Lzttar of Artistic charactar tkat 
admits considerable sbeea j the making 






1 Shortly before the ni New York how 
ihall announce nW model -56 HP Wi 
which ROW nils t i>*> Ther* wi!l pp 
b nc.T*di-iclion m ill* price cf this 

vanoxis typ* theWmton Company 
iced thai ihn world baa not produced* moto 
ptrior w th rigtitly- built cur 

1 Having for years en|oy*ci the confidence of the 
bjt class of motor car buyera. our patron* 
be aiurtd that w have no intentior whatever 
of off r- ing foe falc any nprtmenial model 
And they tnay b equally certain that we will r*> 
cheapen ih character cfi>ur product In other 
irorda. Jyou buy a Wtnton 3w today, you will nt't 

cha*e and drsirovins' vour faith in 

i or next y*o 

The winton Compony 



or natural talent to 
oduc<? an acceptable 
ado of comi 
tcrituj with 


reflect the daiacteils 
tics imposed oa cad 
clement lytktool 
\vith \vhiA its wade 



Sing'le Stroke Show-card. Roman 

"fementary Principles- 

opq rslu vwxy 


tt> 67390* 

Practical ^modifications' of 
9in9le Stroke OpmaL 

Ibat QPQ artistic and permit of more ypood. 

a dbbcdcQf&ggVfiiij jkkl 
tia m m miop pq,r9stttmvvw 

195 1 667690* 








Which these fabrics 
radiate =- together 
with. -the absolutely 
faultless tailoring 
Av"ill proclaim you 
altogether the 
better dressed nian 


-uejns-rrom our selection or 


T(ou are cordially 
invited to inspect 
this wonderful display 

o o r 



Return to desk from whicl;^ 
This book is DUE on the last da 



MAY? 1953 

LD 21-100m-9,'47(A5702sl6)47i